TUI may pull out of Croke Park talks

TUI president John MacGabhann: said the union will not accept pay cuts or job losses. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

TUI president John MacGabhann: said the union will not accept pay cuts or job losses. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons/The Irish Times

Mon, Feb 11, 2013, 00:00

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has signalled that it may pull out of the current talks on an extension to the Croke Park agreement if the Government tables proposals that would result in pay cuts or job losses.

The TUI said it had decided in December “on a without prejudice basis”, to accept the Government’s invitation to talks. It said this was with a view to examining any proposals that might be put forward by management and to putting its own priorities to Government.

In a statement today, the union’s general secretary John MacGabhann said: “At a meeting of the TUI Executive Committee last Friday, a motion was passed that as soon as concrete proposals are put on the table, the TUI Executive will meet without delay.

“If at that stage pay cuts or jobs losses are included in the agenda, the TUI Executive Committee will consider the union’s further participation in the talks.”

He said the TUI wanted to preserve the pay and pensions of members, ensure protection against compulsory redundancies, tackle the casualisation of the teaching and lecturing professions and restore the pay scales of newly-qualified teachers.

Mr MacGabhann said the issue of casualisation in the teaching and lecturing professions must be addressed in the current talks.

“About 30 per cent of our members are employed on a part-time basis, some earning as little as €10,000 per annum, which is not a living wage. They are living in income poverty with little prospect of full time, permanent employment. We have heard of young teachers leaving the profession to take up jobs in the private sector in areas such as retail and in call centres because there is currently little prospect of a career in teaching for them.

“This and other matters such as the deep cuts to staffing and the erosion of service to learners must be addressed by Government in the context of the current talks,” he said.

“The Government must remember that under the existing Croke Park Agreement an additional 900,000 hours annually are being provided by second-level teachers and teaching hours delivered by Institute of Technology lecturers have increased by over 10 per cent in circumstances of staffing cuts and increases in student numbers.

“This increased productivity is in addition to the pension levy and pay cuts which have reduced the take-home pay of serving teachers by as much as 20 per cent,” he said.

The Government has indicated that it wants to make savings of about €350 million in the education sector over three years as part of the new Croke Park process. Overall throughout the public service it is seeking to generate savings of €1 billion on its pay and pensions bill.

Issues raised in general by management in the current process which could affect staff in the education sector include: supervision and substitution payments, increments, work duties, redeployment, pay rates and allowances and pensions.

The TUI is the latest organisation representing staff in the public service to serve a warning about their continued participation in the Croke Park talks process.

The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors and the Garda Representative Association have already withdrawn.

The country’s largest nursing union, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, said last week it would withdraw from the talks unless the Government moved away from its “high-handed, dictatorial approach” aimed at cutting staff income.

The union representing prison officers said it would not remain in talks on an extended Croke Park agreement if the process was only about attacking members’ premium payments and terms and conditions.

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