TUI faces €280,000 payout to ASTI over ‘poaching’ claims

ASTI understood to have sought much larger compensation package

TUI general secretary John MacGabhann (right) on a teachers’ protest outside Greenhills College in Dublin in 2018. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

TUI general secretary John MacGabhann (right) on a teachers’ protest outside Greenhills College in Dublin in 2018. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) is facing a bill of almost €280,000 in compensation to a rival union over allegations that it had “poached” about 1,000 members, as part of a recommendation put forward by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu).

However it is understood the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) had sought a significantly higher compensation package running into several million euro during a process aimed at dealing with a complaint that many of its members were recruited by the TUI during a dispute in 2017.

A disputes committee established by Ictu – the umbrella organisation for the trade union movement – found in favour of the ASTI. A subsequent appeal by the TUI was rejected.

Ictu has now recommended that the TUI should make a payment of €279,798.75 to the ASTI.

The ASTI leadership is to consider the proposal at a meeting next week.

Under trade union rules, organisations are not permitted to take on members from each other during a dispute.

The ASTI contended that 1,059 members left and joined the TUI while it was involved in a dispute with the Government.

Dispute

The ASTI’s loss of membership occurred during its dispute with the Government in 2017 when members lost thousands of euro in frozen pay and loss of payment for supervision duties due to its “repudiation” of the then Lansdowne Road pay deal.

The TUI, however, remained inside the pay deal and its members were unaffected by these financial penalties.

The disputes committee established by Ictu last year directed the TUI to write to the 1,059 members and advise them they were recruited in breach of trade union rules. These members would then be free to rejoin the ASTI.

However, it is understood that only 90 people in this group agreed to return to the ASTI. The remainder decided to stay with the TUI or did not reply.

It is understood that no agreement could be reached in talks on the issue of compensation.

Ictu has now proposed that the TUI should pay the ASTI a sum equivalent to the membership subscriptions that the 969 members in dispute would have paid if they had remained members in a six-month period beginning in January 2017.

The amount was calculated with reference to the contribution a member would pay to the union if they were on the midpoint of the pre-2011 salary scale for teachers.

Under this formula Ictu recommended that the TUI should pay the ASTI €279,798.75, which it said represented “a fair and reasonable basis on which this dispute can be finally and fully resolved”.

However, it is understood that in the recent discussions the ASTI has sought a much larger compensation package based on the potential subscription income generated by the disputed members over their careers and not just during the six months of the industrial dispute in the first part of 2017.

The TUI said on Wednesday that it had “fully engaged with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions on this matter and will continue to do so”.

“The union will not be commenting further on the issue at this time,” it added.

The ASTI said the recommendation was “under consideration”.

“The executive (standing committee) will be meeting next week to consider all relevant matters relating to the dispute,” it said in a statement.

As of December 31st last year the TUI had 18,352 members, while the ASTI had 16,849, according to figures provided to the Government under industrial relations legislation.