Union 'will not accept' any change in Croke Park deal
TEACHERS last night warned the Government against any attempts to change the terms of the Croke Park agreement.
Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) president Jack Keane said it could result in the union withdrawing from the process.
The agreement protects the pay and employment of public sector workers, in return for greater productivity, including an extra hour a week in the classroom for teachers.
Mr Keane said teachers and secondary students had already suffered enough cutbacks. He insisted that the Government abide by the terms and spirit of the Croke Park deal.
"The deal has now been accepted by all sides -- it is already being implemented in second-level schools around the country," he said in Cork.
He warned Education Minister Ruairi Quinn: "We have kept our side of the agreement -- we expect the Government to keep its side.
"A deal is a deal. In the event of any attempt by your Government to deviate from its terms we absolutely reserve the right to withdraw from all aspects of the agreement," he said.
The ASTI boss said that teachers ratified the agreement because of the alternative of further pay cuts and the loss of hundreds of teaching jobs.
He added: "As a teacher I can tell you that the Croke Park agreement fails to understand the work of teachers and schools. An extra hour a week stands in stark contrast to the time and energy given by teachers to extracurricular activities for students."
He said that teachers had already suffered enough with the loss of resource teachers for the Traveller community, a reduction in subject choice for students, a loss of English language teachers and cuts to overall school funding.
"And only weeks ago we were informed of a 'pause' to the allocation of resource teacher hours for students with special education needs."
Mr Keane pointed out that less than 10pc of students would get a full-time teaching post within 12 months of graduating -- and that more than 25pc of teachers were now on temporary contracts.
"This pattern of entry to teaching is very damaging to the morale and motivation of young teachers," he warned.
The ASTI leader slated a proposed work-placement scheme which will allow schools to employ teachers on an unpaid basis. And he called for unqualified personnel not to be allowed to assume teaching positions at a time when hundreds of qualified teachers were desperate for work.
"To compete with other high-performing knowledge econ- omies in Europe and elsewhere, we must invest in education, we must have the best possible education service we can afford," he said.