Teachers told to back Croke Park deal or else face pay cut
PRIMARY teachers have been warned to back the Croke Park deal or face drastic pay cuts when the Government seeks €6bn in savings.
With just days to go before balloting ends, the only teacher union backing a 'yes' vote said there was a "real and substantial threat" that wages would be slashed again.
The Irish National Teachers' Organisation, representing over 31,000 members, listed the threat of pay cuts in a document outlining 10 things they should consider when voting.
Its members are expected to finish balloting before the end of the week, along with the other main teacher unions.
The other unions -- ASTI with 18,273 members, TUI with 15,800, and IFUT with 2,040 -- have recommended that their members reject the deal.
The final result of ballots by public-sector unions affiliated to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions' Public Services Committee is expected to be a 'yes' after the two largest unions -- SIPTU and IMPACT -- recommended their members back it.
So far, the number of public servants for and against the deal is evenly balanced.
The CPSU's 13,000 members voted no, while the PSEU, with over 10,000 members, and the AHCPS, with 3,000, voted yes.
The agreement guarantees pay for four years and annual wage reviews that could see pay cuts refunded if public servants co-operate with reforms.
The INTO message warned that the Government plans to cut the budget deficit by €3bn this December and €3bn in the same month next year.
"In the absence of an agreement, it is the view of the Central Executive Committee that there is a real and substantial threat of pay cuts," it said.
It added that it would seek the support of members for a campaign of industrial action to prevent the pay cuts if the deal was voted down.
Meanwhile, SIPTU general president Jack O'Connor said public servants were trying to decide a strategy to "confront the great challenge of our time".
Speaking at the James Connolly Commemoration at Arbour Hill yesterday, he said this was not a question of endorsing a government policy that reflected the interests of the rich.
"It is merely a question as to whether we go for broke now in a straight fight against superior forces beyond this island or whether we opt for a longer-term strategy, holding ground now and working with others on the left to bring about a better, fairer paradigm," he said.