Union vows to protect Croke Park deal


MUCH OF the commentary on the Croke Park agreement was populist, ill-informed and designed to create false divisions between the private and public sector, president of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation said last night.

Noreen Flynn said the agreement has delivered and teachers are determined to ensure that it continues to deliver. “We will fight vigorously to protect it.”

Addressing the INTO congress in Killarney she said teachers are keeping their side of the agreement and expect Government to meet its commitments.

She told 750 delegates that if fully implemented the agreement would deliver huge savings for Government. “The prize for Government is a 20 per cent cost saving by 2015,” she said, “a greater cost reduction than most private enterprises . . .” She described the agreement as a huge prize for the country and it was in everyone’s interest that it was made to work.

Later this week, the union’s congress will debate a motion demanding that the guarantees under the agreement of no further pay cuts and no compulsory redundancies continue to apply.

It will demand a ballot for industrial action up to and including strike action in the event of a breach of these guarantees.

Ms Flynn said that under the agreement teachers are working an additional 36 contract hours a year and are also operating effective redeployment arrangements.

Nearly 2,000 teachers were efficiently redeployed last year. The first progress review conducted by the Implementation Body in June 2011 highlighted the additional productivity of teachers and estimated the additional hours at 1.19 million hours a year which was priced at €45 million.

Ms Flynn said the additional work undertaken by teachers under the agreement did not include the many additional hours teachers give of their own time for extracurricular activities such as sport, drama, music and school trips.

She said this work is much appreciated by parents in local communities and recognised in school reports where parental confidence in the work of primary teachers is as high as 95 per cent, a satisfaction rating which she claimed was unmatched in other areas of Irish life.

She said teachers, along with workers throughout the public service, had taken a 7.5 per cent cut through the pension levy in 2009 followed by a further 6.5 per cent pay cut in 2010.

Ms Flynn said the take-home pay of teachers had been significantly reduced since 2008.

“These real and substantial cutbacks have made a huge difference to the earning capacity and spending power of teachers, many of whom have mortgages, childcare commitments and are finding it difficult to make ends meet.”

She also warned Government that any further reductions in the starting pay of new teachers poses a serious threat to education quality.

Ms Flynn was referring to the fact that new entrants to the public service, including teachers, are not protected by the Croke Park agreement and as a result have seen an additional 13 per cent pay cut imposed.