Pay issues to dominate teachers' conferences


The annual conferences of teachers’ unions begin today with pay and the threat of strikes expected to dominate over the next three days.

Delegates from the three unions - the INTO, the ASTI and the TUI - are meeting this morning amid mounting speculation that industrial action will follow a failure by the benchmarking report to satisfy teachers’ pay demands.

In Bundoran, the ASTI delegates are due to debate the nature of its pay campaign amid several calls from within the union for a review of its strategy.

Comments by the ASTI general secretary in the The Irish Timestoday are likely to cause controversy. In an interview, Mr Charlie Lennon said the tactics of a small group of members were damaging the union’s reputation and the standing of the teachers’ profession.

He accused the group of being "more interested in fomenting internal divisions than in working towards achieving policies".

Mr Lennon also signalled his unease about the union's decision to leave the ICTU and his concern about its continued refusal to negotiate a better deal on payment for supervision and substitution until the overall pay claim is resolved.

The union’s president, Ms Catherine Fitzpatrick, has urged members to devise a strategy which has the potential to succeed.

The ASTI’s ban on supervision and substitution duties is causing increasing anger among members. The union has refused to enter talks until its pay claim is resolved.

The main focus of the INTO conference in Limerick will be the departure of the union’s general secretary, Senator Joe O’Toole, after 10 years. He is to be replaced by Mr John Carr.

The INTO supports the benchmarking process but has demanded that any resulting pay should be paid in full before the expiry of the PPF. The union is also expected to discuss its campaign for the refurbishment of substandard schools.