THE jobs of some second-level teachers are on the line after their rejection of the Haddington Road Agreement on pay cuts and productivity, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has warned.
As almost 500 schools braced themselves for industrial action by the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI), Mr Quinn took off the gloves when he suggested that compulsory redundancies could happen.
The minister told the Dail that it should be a "matter of concern to many teachers" that by staying outside the agreement and embarking on industrial action they automatically lost protections, such as job security.
Teachers enjoy "job for life" status and it would be unprecedented for a compulsory redundancy to occur.
There is a scheme to allow for the redeployment of teachers who become surplus to requirements in their school, but this no longer applies to those who have not signed up for Haddington Road.
The Department of Education could not provide figures but some schools may have teachers over and above the approved quota because of difficulty in finding an appropriate redeployment. These are likely to be the first in the firing line if the minister follows through on his warning.
From 8am next Wednesday the ASTI has banned meetings outside school hours; participation in training for the new Junior Cert; taking on additional responsibilities without pay; and they have been told they do not have to cover for colleagues absent on school activity.
The move will cause disruption in schools and force the cancellation of important meetings, including those with parents, if they are to avoid eating into class time and sending students home early.
The Joint Managerial Body, representing managers in about 380 secondary schools – those traditionally run by the religious orders – is having a special meeting of its executive today to consider the ASTI's move.
The Association of Community and Comprehensive Schools (ACCS) will issue advice to its 94 members today.
In the Dail last night, Mr Quinn highlighted the pay losses to newly qualified teachers who are members of the ASTI when compared with colleagues in the other two teachers unions, the TUI and INTO, both of which have accepted the deal.
He urged the ASTI to reconsider and to examine the cost to members, pointing out that rejection of the deal would have the greatest impact on young teachers, not only in terms of pay but also benefits such as securing permanent status.
Mr Quinn's warning drew a rapid fire response from ASTI general secretary Pat King who said he was "astounded that the minister would raise the spectre of redundancies at this time instead of engaging in seeking a resolution".
Mr King said all of the information stated in the Dail by the minister was made available to ASTI members prior to the ballots on the Haddington Road Agreement and industrial action.