Sunday 11 December 2016

ASTI mulls over ballot on wages and junior cycle reform

Published 01/12/2016 | 02:30

Secondary teachers’ union leaders will decide on Saturday whether to ballot their members on proposals aimed at ending the various disputes in which they have been engaged. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.
Secondary teachers’ union leaders will decide on Saturday whether to ballot their members on proposals aimed at ending the various disputes in which they have been engaged. Picture Colin Keegan, Collins Dublin.

Secondary teachers' union leaders will decide on Saturday whether to ballot their members on proposals aimed at ending the various disputes in which they have been engaged.

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A document that emerged from three weeks of talks has been described as the "final offer" to the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) in relation to pay and junior cycle reform. However, on pay and conditions, the proposals amount to a repackaging of what has already been accepted by other teacher unions. This means there would be no extra cost implications for the Government.

The only fresh element is an opportunity for teachers to opt in, or opt out, of supervision and substitution duties on a permanent basis.

It is a similar story in relation to junior cycle reform, over which the ASTI has been engaged in a four-year campaign of resistance.

The union has been offered a range of assurances, but there is no change from the arrangements being worked by the other secondary level teachers' union the TUI.

A meeting of the ASTI's governing body, its 23-member Standing Committee, yesterday agreed to refer the document to the bigger 180-member central executive committee (CEC) at a specially convened meeting on Saturday.

Crucial to that move was the authority that resides with the CEC, rather than the Standing Committee, to make decisions on new pay offers.

While the ASTI has already rejected the Lansdowne Road Agreement, a subsequent top-up deal for newly recruited teachers is only being offered formally to the ASTI in this document.

For the CEC to reject a pay offer it needs a two-thirds majority, but a decision to send an offer to a ballot of members requires only a simple majority.

Read more: Last chance for teacher's union as Government issue 'final offer'

Saturday's meeting will have to weigh up the mood and whether there is the stomach to continue the battle against Government, particularly if members are not given an opportunity to vote.

A rejection of the document by the CEC would reopen the threat of school closures. Junior cycle students at risk of missing out on 10pc of the marks in the English exam this year will be given a second chance to do a crucial assessment if the ASTI agrees the new deal.

Irish Independent

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