Executive is accused of misleading union

 

THE executive of the Teachers' Union of Ireland was accused yesterday of circulating "misleading information and untruths" about the pay and conditions deal negotiated by the union under the Programme for Competitiveness in Work prior to its rejection by the membership.

In a special session on the CW, delegates to the union's annual congress in Cork passed two motions criticising the executive's handling of the debate on the issue and the manner in which the executive publicised its eventual rejection.

The first motion deplored the executive's failure to defend teachers in the "media onslaught" surrounding the rejection of the deal and its public attack on "the integrity of those branches who were opposed to the deal". A second motion called for any future national ballots by the union to be held "in an atmosphere of free and democratic debate and directs that the executive committee shall not interfere with the right of any member of the TUI to participate freely in such a debate".

The motion also called on the executive to carry both sides of any argument concerning a ballot, although this was opposed by a number of executive members who felt it was unreasonable to expect the union to publicise the views of the opposing side in disputes.

Ms Mary Friel (Dublin Post Primary branch) accused the executive of creating "misconceptions about the PCW" on issues of contracts and pension information, and of failing to allow the adequate presentation of both sides of the debate on the package. Members must not be railroaded into things that we do not believe in," she said, claiming the executive had advised branches not to circulate a letter detailing the objections to the package.

Mr Tim O'Meara (Limerick) said there had been "a marked lack of balance" in the way the executive had sought a favourable response to the package. "The executive stands accused of attempting to create a worsening of conditions for second level teachers," he said, concluding that he found its members "guilty as charged". Mr Sean Connolly (Dublin City Post Primary), said many members felt "insulted" by the executive for trying to publicly oppose the package.

Speaking for the executive, Mr Joe Carroll admitted "mistakes had been made and people's views were not listened to". He said: "We did take a decision to recommend the PCW package. Whether that was right or wrong is another issue, but many members feel their views were not listened to."

TUI president Mr Tony Deffely rejected claims that the executive had failed to decisively inform the public of the union's rejection of the package as "wrong, very wrong

Both motions were passed by a large majority. After the debate, Ms Friel said the votes represented "a vote of no confidence in past actions but an acknowledgment that we have future hopes for them [the executive]". Mr Deffely, also speaking after the debate, said the "bloodletting" predicted by some observers had not materialised and the constructive criticism that emerged had been very worthwhile".