Vulnerable schools at risk as TUI opts out of deal talks
SOME of the country's most disadvantaged schools will be left outside a process aimed at improving the education system.
Talks are to start with just two of the three teacher unions on the Croke Park productivity deal.
The Department of Education confirmed yesterday that the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) is excluded from the discussions after its weekend decision not to end industrial action.
The TUI represents members in about 250 second-level schools in the vocational education sector, serving some of the most disadvantaged students.
These schools will continue to be affected by union bans on cooperation with certain middle management duties, parent-teacher and staff meetings outside school hours and certain work associated with the Whole School Evaluation process.
The weekend decision also puts the TUI outside negotiations aimed at modernising the education system.
The Irish Vocational Education Association (IVEA), representing the 250 VEC schools and centres of education, expressed "dismay" at the TUI decision.
IVEA general secretary Michael Moriarty said there was a danger that the sector would be "isolated".
He said management in the 250 VEC schools remained "firmly in the clutches of TUI directives", including one which did not allow re-allocation of duties of middle-management posts, such as year heads, left vacant by the government jobs embargo.
The TUI's refusal to lift directives came after heated discussion at a special delegate conference at the weekend, which voted by a margin of three to two (230 votes to 146) not to end industrial action.
Arguments from the TUI leadership that lifting the union directives was the only way to get into negotiations with the department, and to influence their outcome, were rebuffed.
The Croke Park deal is a trade off between the productivity changes and a guarantee of no further pay or pension cuts.
In a statement last night, the department said it was "disappointed that the TUI has maintained its industrial action/ directives as the lifting of these was a necessary part of the process of discussion ".
The other two teacher unions, the primary level Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO), and the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI), have both lifted their industrial actions.
The ASTI, which remains opposed to the Croke Park deal and wants further clarification on aspects of it before any decision on whether it can be implemented, has been invited to talks with the department on Thursday.