Teachers may seek additional pay benefits on foot of nurses’ pay proposals

ASTI wants redress arising from penalties imposed after strike two years ago

 An Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) protest outside Leinster House, Dublin, in 2016.   Photograph: Eric Luke

An Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) protest outside Leinster House, Dublin, in 2016. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Second-level teachers have indicated they will now be seeking additional pay benefits in the wake of the Government’s proposed settlement of the recent strike by nurses.

The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) said nurses had secured additional monies and there was therefore a basis to return to the current public service pay agreement “so as to ensure a fair distribution of benefits”.

The union’s general secretary, Kieran Christie, said the Government’s recent settlement with nurses had stretched the existing overall public service agreement “in terms of its shape and cost parameters”.

“Further measures will be necessary to provide a semblance of balance,” he said.

The union is seeking “redress” from the Government for the impact of financial penalties imposed on second-level teachers as a result of industrial action undertaken two years ago.

This is of particular concern after Minsters decided not to apply similar sanctions on nurses arising from their recent strike.

The union also wants the issues relating to the two-tier pay system for recent entrants as well as pay in general “to be addressed sooner rather than later”.

The ASTI said that penalties under financial emergency legislation had been used against its members “in a singularly punitive and targeted way” on foot of their dispute between July 2016 and June 2017.

‘Unacceptable legacy’

Writing in the latest edition of the union’s journal, Astir, Mr Christie said this had “left ASTI members with an unacceptable legacy”.

He said “this injustice must be undone”.

Mr Christie said the ASTI was seeking legal opinion on the differential treatment of his union’s members and those members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) regarding the application of financial emergency (Fempi) legislation.

“We have also sought a meeting with the Department of Education and Skills to raise these issues and demand redress.”

On foot of its industrial action in 2016/17 the Government used a provision in financial emergency legislation to impose penalties on members of the ASTI including a freeze on incremental pay rises .

When the industrial action ended in June 2017 the Government lifted these measures. However the original dates for the payment of increments were not restored, leaving members of the union with ongoing losses compared with where they would have been if the increment freeze had never been put in place.

Different approach

However the Government adopted a different approach during the recent nurses’ strike and did not apply sanctions as a result of the work stoppages.

“As we know, the use of this [financial emergency] legislation against ASTI members during our dispute was an oppressive and punitive action that grossly penalised our members. It is now clear that the Government has not resorted to these tactics against the nurses. ASTI welcomes that approach as the Fempi measures are invidious and should be consigned to the dustbin of history. It is now clear that, far from being applied to all public servants, Fempi was used against ASTI members in a singularly punitive and targeted way,” said Mr Christie.

He added that the ASTI had raised this issue “at the most senior levels within the Irish Congress of Trade Unions [ICTU].