Teacher unions to hold second ballot on reform deal

 

SEÁN FLYNN, Education Editor

SECONDARY TEACHER unions are to reballot members on the Croke Park agreement after the Department of Education clarified aspects of the deal.

The executive of the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI) decided at the weekend to hold a new ballot.

The Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) will also reballot members shortly.

Last year, the ASTI’s 18,000 members rejected the Croke Park deal by a decisive margin in line with a recommendation from its executive. But the executive is making no recommendation in advance of the latest ballot.

Instead, a document has been issued to the ASTI’s members which details the outcome of recent “clarification” talks between the ASTI and the department.

The Croke Park deal on public service reform promises no pay cuts or compulsory redundancies until 2014 in exchange for modernisation measures. The deal was backed by the wider public service trade union movement and the largest teacher union, the INTO.

It was rejected though by the ASTI and the TUI.

ASTI’s general secretary Pat King said: “The ASTI central executive council has always been adamant that frontline teachers working in classrooms all over the country would have the final say on the outcome of the talks between the ASTI and the Department of Education and Skills.

“This ballot is of utmost importance as it has major implications for the pay, working conditions and job security of second-level teachers.”

A postal ballot of the ASTI’s members will be held over the coming weeks.

The department has adopted a tough approach to unions that oppose the deal. It has threatened to sack surplus teachers in schools and some lecturers in the institutes of technology – unless the deal is endorsed.

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

An ASTI briefing document published says the outcome of the talks represents “the optimum achievable for members in the current negotiating climate”.

CROKE PARK DEAL KEY CLARIFICATIONS 

1. 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;

2. 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;

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

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

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

6. Pension: A guarantee remains that a retirement lump sum will be based on “uncut” salary for those who retire before February 2012.

The Irish Times – Monday, January 24, 2011

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