THE teachers’ pay dispute took a new twist today when Education Minister Ruairi Quinn announced how he would decide who is entitled to the benefits of the Haddington Road pay and productivity deal.
In an unprecedented industrial relations move, members of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) in dual union schools will have to declare their TUI membership if they want to be covered by the agreement.
The ASTI has embarked on industrial action and, while outside the deal, its members are not entitled to certain pay rises, or other benefits such as protection against compulsory redundancy.
It has left the Department of Education in a quandary about determining what teacher is in what union, if at all, and what is their entitlement.
The differences are significant for teachers in the two unions as Haddington Road provides for a pay rise for young teachers and continuing, though delayed, increments, for all. As an example, for a young teacher, the difference in salary will be about €1,500 immediately and €5,500 a year in three years time. In six years, the overall gap in earned income between two young teachers – one in ASTI and one in the TUI - would be about €25,000
The department will now assume that teachers in the 380 voluntary secondary schools - those traditionally run by the religious – are ASTI members. The ASTI has sole representation right s in those schools.
Teachers in most schools in the Education and Training Board (ETB) sector – formerly VECS – will be assumed to be members of the TUI and will automatically receive the benefits of Haddington Road.
However both the TUI and ASTI has members in about 150 community schools and community colleges and, in these schools, TUI members will be asked to sign a voluntary declaration to secure the benefits of the deal.
The department’s formula raises questions about non-union members who, if in a traditional ASTI school, will be treated as an ASTI member.
Ironically, under the terms of a previous agreement, ASTI members are still entitled to be paid up to €1,769 annually for supervision and substitution work, and to sign up for this on a voluntary basis for a maximum of 33 hours a year.
However, a downside of the Haddington Road deal for TUI members is that 43 hours a year supervision and substitution work is mandatory – and for no payment.
This is going to cause major difficulties, and depending on how the dispute evolves Me Quinn may decide to pull the plug on that payment.
Today, the minister agreed with his Cabinet colleague Brendan Howlin that the two tier supervision and substitution situation was unsustainable but said it was “not an issue in the immediate moment”