Teachers to be offered deal to halt industrial action

Supervision payments to be restored if agreement reached on ‘Croke Park hours’

 

The Government is expected to offer to restore payments to secondary teachers for carrying out supervision and substitution duties if they rescind plans to cease working 33 unpaid teaching hours originally agreed as part of a productivity agreement.

Talks will take place on Wednesday between the Department of Education and the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) aimed at averting industrial action, which would likely to lead to widespread school closures in the weeks ahead.

The Minister for Education Richard Bruton, meanwhile, is to cut short a planned week-long trade visit to China in light of the industrial unrest in the second level school sector.

ASTI members are set to stage seven days of strikes between the end of October and early December in protest at lower pay rates for recently-recruited teachers.

Separately the 17,000 members of the union are to withdraw from carrying out supervision and substitution duties from November 7th, on foot of penalties imposed on them by the Government for “repudiating” the Lansdowne Road public service agreement.

This measure, in itself, could result in the widespread closure of second level schools after the forthcoming mid-term break unless suitable personnel can be found in time to carry out these arrangements .

The Government imposed penalties such as forfeiture of incremental pay rises and a planned €800 payment for supervision and substitution duties after the ASTI decided several months ago to withdraw from working the so-called “Croke Park hours”.

Government sources indicated that if the ASTI dropped its plans to withdraw from the Croke Park hours, the union would no longer be considered to be “repudiating” the Lansdowne Road accord and increments -- which have been frozen since July -- and the supervision and substitution payment would be paid.

Mr Bruton on Monday welcomed a decision by the ASTI to accept an invitation for talks “on the issues involved in the dispute”.

He said these talks would take place on Wednesday, as will discussions on a separate row with the ASTI over junior cycle reform.

Meanwhile in a letter to the Department of Education on Monday the ASTI confirmed it had refused a request for members who are principals in schools to help with putting contingency plans in place for the strike.

Pay equality

Separately on Monday the ASTI said it was not seeking complete pay restoration for all its members but rather pay equality for a cohort recruited since 2011.

ASTI president Ed Byrne said this group of recently-recruited teachers were being paid significantly less than those taken on prior to the economic crash.

Mr Byrne maintained the pay gap that would remain for this group of young teachers if the union accepted a deal proposed by the Government would be much higher than the amount suggested by Mr Bruton.

On Sunday Mr Bruton said a substantial pay deal was on the table for recently-qualified teachers but he acknowledged that there would still be a gap of €1,800 between their earnings and those of teachers appointed before the crash.

However Mr Byrne maintained that the the real pay gap for young teachers would be €2,775.

He said in an interview with RTÉ Radio that the Minster had “completely discounted” an academic allowance for persons holding a diploma in education.