Saturday 21 October 2017

ASTI tells members to reject latest proposals

STANCE: ASTI general secretary Pat King, deputy general secretary Diarmuid de Paor and president Gerry Breslin at the Department of Education in May. Photo: Arthur Carron/Collins
STANCE: ASTI general secretary Pat King, deputy general secretary Diarmuid de Paor and president Gerry Breslin at the Department of Education in May. Photo: Arthur Carron/Collins
President elect of the ASTI, pictured before a meeting to discuss the Haddington Road agreement
Hopes of breakthrough in ASTI dispute after talks

The Association of Secondary Teachers' Ireland (ASTI) is asking members to reject the latest proposals on the Haddington Road Agreement on pay and productivity in the public service.

The union's 180-member central executive committee (CEC) agreed today to put the package to a ballot of its 17,000-members -  with a recommendation to vote against.

According to the ASTI, while the new proposals contained a number of changes and new commitments in relation to teachers and education, members of the executive committee expressed the view that second-level teachers were exasperated by the ongoing damage to second-level education and the teaching profession due to Budget cuts and austerity measures.

"The view of the council is that the changes which emerged from the recent talks are not acceptable" the union stated after a day-long meeting in a Dublin hotel.

A ballot will take place over the coming weeks and it is the third vote by ASTI members this year on different versions of the pay cuts and productivity package.

The ASTI is the only public service union to reject Haddington Road and last month it started a campaign of industrial action in support of its position,  which has caused disruption to schools .

Industrial action, which includes a ban on meetings outside school hours, has forced the cancellation of some school events,  or the closure of schools to allow for meetings to take place inside the school day.

The union has also banned members from participating in teacher training courses, including training for the new Junior Cycle English ,which is being introduced next September.

The latest proposals emerged after contacts between the ASTI and the Department of Education, which culminated in a formal meeting last Tuesday.

The proposals clarified a range of issues covered by the Haddington Road Agreement and fixed a timescale for certain commitments that were included in the deal.

It covered employment conditions of part time and temporary teachers, reform of the Junior Cycle, posts of responsibility in schools, and the use of the 33 additional working hours agreed under the previous Croke Park hours.

It also gave certain teachers the freedom to opt out of supervision and substituton work, but at the cost of losing an allowance of up to €1,769 paid for these duties.

The decision of the cec will cause dismay in Government circles.  In a response, a Department of Education spokesperson said the union "has a decision to make and we will await that decision and consider its implications".

A further rejection by the ASTI of the propsoals would be certain to lead to a ramping up of the dispute between the union and the Government, and threaten even worse disruption to schools.

Katherine Donnelly, Education Editor

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