TUI backs off from solo run on junior cycle dispute

Teachers in further education threaten industrial action over ‘privatisation’ plan

TUI general secretary John MacGabhann: said there were aspects of the proposal the ASTI would have difficulties with even though it would support the thrust of the motion

TUI general secretary John MacGabhann: said there were aspects of the proposal the ASTI would have difficulties with even though it would support the thrust of the motion

 

The Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) has deferred a decision on whether to escalate the junior cycle dispute to include a withdrawal of teacher participation in after-school sports and other extra-curricular activities.

An emergency motion, which called on the union to instruct its members to “desist, from a specified date, and for a specified duration” engaging in extra-curricular work was referred to the union’s executive rather than being put to a vote.

Proinsias Ó Tuama of the Co Cork branch, which had proposed the motion with eight other branches, said he was glad delegates had treated Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan with respect, but “I don’t think we as professionals are getting the respect we give in return”.

He agreed, however, to defer the motion on the advice of senior officials who said they wished to maintain a unified strategy with the ASTI.

General secretary John MacGabhann said there were aspects of the proposal the ASTI would have difficulties with even though it would support the thrust of the motion.

Meanwhile, teachers in further education say they will take industrial action if a plan to outsource training courses leads to lower pay and conditions in the sector.

TUI vice-president Joanne Irwin said there was a “huge fear” that teachers would be downgraded to training instructors – which would mean lower pay and a loss of increments – under a planned reform of the further education and training sector.

The union agreed to a motion at its annual congress in Wexford to strenuously resist “any attempts by private providers to deliver courses previously offered by TUI members”.

It said “priority must be given to TUI members before any new courses are offered, on a private basis, on our centres”, and the union agreed “to immediately ballot for industrial action if TUI members are displaced in such a process”.

The TUI represents 2,500 teachers in the further education sector, and the union has warned that their displacement with lesser-qualified instructors could impact on the quality of courses.

A new organisational plan for the further education sector is to be published shortly by Solas, the governing body for the sector which has subsumed the remains of disgraced training agency Fás.

The TUI is continuing to seek representation on the board of Solas. Ms Irwin said that without the union’s membership “there are no real educational experts on the board”. Moreover, workers would now have the organisational plan “presented to us” without any input.

On the final day of the TUI congress there was also a strong show of solidarity for staff at St Angela’s College, Sligo, who say they are being downgraded from “lecturers to teachers”, with reduced conditions, under a planned merger with NUI Galway.

The union is holding a second day of strike action at the college on April 16th over lack of consultation surrounding the planned merger.

The TUI said it would call off the strike action if the university agreed to talks under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission.