Teachers to work extra hour as union accepts Croke Park deal


SECONDARY TEACHERS will have to work an extra hour per week after members voted to accept the Croke Park deal in a re- ballot of members.

The Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI) voted by a 2:1 margin to endorse the deal.

Surprisingly, only 38 per cent of ASTI’s 18,000 members voted in the ballot. The Croke Park deal on public service reform promises no pay cuts or compulsory redundancies until 2014 – in exchange for modernisation measures.

For teachers, the Croke Park deal means an extra 33 hours a year, extra supervision and new redeployment measures.

Last year, ASTI voted by a similar margin to reject the deal, as recommended by their executive.

This time round, the executive made no recommendation to members. The volte-face on the agreement comes after threats from the Department of Education that some 300 surplus teachers could be made redundant unless ASTI backed the deal.

The reballot followed over a dozen meetings between the department and ASTI which teased out how the deal would work in schools.

An ASTI briefing document circulated to members said these clarifications of the deal represented “the optimum achievable for members in the current negotiating climate”.

Yesterday, ASTI general secretary Pat King said: “After a healthy debate and careful consideration of all of the issues, the members have made their decision.”

The vote is a major coup for Mr King who has been anxious to shrug off ASTI’s militant image since he took office last year.

The union has warned members about the dangers of being isolated on the deal, which has already been endorsed by primary teachers (members of the INTO) and the wider public service trade union movement.

The ASTI vote leaves the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) as the only teaching union which still has not given its backing to the deal.

It is set to reballot members after the general election.

Key features of the Croke Park deal for teachers include:

School management may designate the use of the 33 hours to provide additional time for school planning and policy development, staff meetings, parent-teacher meetings, induction, in-service on new programmes or syllabuses, approved school-arranged in-service/professional development, appropriate further education activities and substitution and supervision;

The hours must only be used for the purposes listed. As a last resort, when the hours are not used for the listed purposes, they can be used for supervision and substitution;

There must be consultation with staff when the school decides how to use the 33 hours;

Parent-teacher meetings held within school time may now take place outside school time;

Where a teacher has been freed up because a colleague has taken their class away, that teacher may be reassigned to supervise the classes of the colleague only;

Regarding pensions, a guarantee remains that a retirement lump sum will be based on “uncut” salary for those who retire before February 2012.

Last month, the TUI executive committee decided to delay asking its 15,800 members for their views until after the election.

The executive is deeply divided over whether to sign up to the changes, particularly at third level.