ASTI delegates back action on pay for new teachers

Tuesday 29 March 2016 23.41
No one spoke against the motion or two others calling for negotiations on the issue
No one spoke against the motion or two others calling for negotiations on the issue

Delegates at the annual Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland convention have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a ballot on industrial action up to and including strike action in pursuit of equal pay for new entrants to the teaching profession.

The motion at the conference in Cork called for a ballot unless the union's concerns were addressed by the end of August.

No one spoke against the motion or two others calling for negotiations on the issue. Speakers told the conference the fact that newly-qualified teachers are paid more than 20% less than their colleagues was "a creeping cancer" that was driving a wedge between teachers. 

To applause, one speaker pointed out that TDs elected for the first time in the 32nd Dáil were not on lower rates of pay compared to other TDs. 

Elsewhere, the Teachers' Union of Ireland conference heard that newly-recruited teachers will earn €300,000 less over a 40-year career compared to their longer-serving colleagues due to lower pay scales introduced by the government during the economic crisis.

Addressing almost 500 delegates at the union's annual conference in Killarney, TUI General Secretary John MacGabhann accused the government of treating new-entrant teachers as "galley slaves".

He noted that new recruits had suffered not just a cut in pay rates, but also the elimination of qualification allowances.

He said their situation was exacerbated by the fact that many were on "fractions of jobs", where they could not secure enough teaching hours to survive.

Mr MacGabhann acknowledged that it would cost money to fix the problem.

Meanwhile, the TUI will ballot members on refusing to carry out supervision and substitution duties in the event that the government withholds planned restoration of payment for those duties.

The TUI has never accepted the Lansdowne Road Agreement and has threatened to cease carrying out the additional 33 hours a year imposed by the Haddington Road Agreement when the HRA expires in June.

However, legislation introduced by the last government permits the government to withhold increments and payments for supervision and substitution if a union does not agree to be bound by a collective agreement - in this case, the Lansdowne Road Agreement, which was rejected by both the TUI and the ASTI.

The motion instructs the executive to ballot members for a mandate to immediately issue a directive that all members cease to deliver substitution hours in the event that agreed supervision and substitution payments for teachers are withheld for any reason.

If teachers withdrew from supervision and substitution, schools would be forced to close.

Tomorrow TUI members will debate low pay.

That union already has a mandate from members for industrial action on the issue.

Dispute over junior cycle reform

Earlier today, the General Secretary of the ASTI said the decision to strike over junior cycle reform is the responsible thing to do as the matter needs to be brought to a head.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O'Rourke, Kieran Christie said the strikes do not take place until September, which means there is a long window of opportunity for negotiations to take place.

Mr Christie said the ASTI is willing to "talk until the cows come home" to resolve the matter.