The former head of the Workplace Relations Commission has warned secondary school teachers belonging to the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland that going to the wire in opposing the Lansdowne Road Agreement will have negative consequences.
ASTI members have rejected the Lansdowne Road Agreement, and by voting to cease doing 33 additional unpaid hours when they return to school in September after their holidays.
That rejection means that from Friday, the Government can impose significant penalties on members under financial emergency legislation known as FEMPI.
The additional hours were imposed under the Haddington Road and Croke Park agreements, and the Government has insisted that they must continue under the successor Lansdowne Road Agreement, which comes into force on Friday.
Under the FEMPI legislation, unions that repudiate a collective agreement are subject to potential penalties including non-restoration of pay cuts, an increment freeze, non-payment of supervision and substitution payments ultimately worth €1,600 a year, and the loss of protection from compulsory redundancy.
Teachers made redundant would only receive the minimum statutory redundancy, and newer recruits will lose more rapid access to a permanent contract.
Speaking on RTÉ's Today with Sean O'Rourke, Kieran Mulvey, who retired from his post as Workplace Relations Commission director general last week said it was a source of regret to him that the ASTI had remained on the fringe.
Mr Mulvey, who oversaw the LRA negotiations, said the ASTI was now facing a very serious crisis on 1 September when schools resume as one of the only unions now outside the protections of the Haddington, Croke Park and Lansdowne Road Agreements.
He said he and his colleagues negotiating those agreements had spent a lot of effort to ensure teachers were protected to the greatest degree possible.
However, he warned that ASTI secondary teachers would be at a serious financial disadvantage in terms of future income and pensions if FEMPI measures were imposed.
Mr Mulvey noted that teachers were not unique in having to work extra hours, as they had been imposed an all public servants during the economic crisis.
He said that while he had sympathy about what the 33 "Croke Park" hours were to be utilised for, he did not have that much sympathy that over a school year teachers would give 33 hours for the improvement of school timetable and school activities.
Asked whether the teachers would be on a "loser" if they went to the wire, Mr Mulvey said they would - as no Government could upset an agreement that so many other public service unions had already agreed to.
He also said that the impact of Brexit on the public finances would make it difficult to accelerate pay restoration as demanded by public sector unions, but said he would favour adhering to the existing timetable for the moment, as not to do so could invite severe industrial chaos.
Mr Mulvey said that behind the scenes efforts were taking place to resolve outstanding difficulties over the Lansdowne Road Agreement with the Garda Representative Association and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors.
He said there was fault on all sides for the fact that a review of garda pay and industrial relations had not been completed.