independent

Friday 18 April 2014

State tells teachers a 'No' means big cut to allowance

Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn
Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn

THE battle lines are now clearly drawn in the dispute between secondary teachers and the Government over the Haddington Road Agreement (HRA).

The Department of Education has set out, in the starkest terms yet, the choice facing members of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) as they prepare for another ballot, starting next week.

Simply put, a 'no' vote will guarantee ASTI members only half of their annual allowance payment for supervision and substitution work.

The payment due would be less than €1,000 -- about half the annual allowance of up to €1,769 -- which has now been abolished under the HRA.

But, the cost of rejecting the deal again could amount to thousands of euro a year for some members, with newly qualified teachers set to lose the most.

While they remain outside the deal, newly qualified teachers in the ASTI are on a lower pay scale and at a loss of about €2,500 this year, while 60pc of ASTI members are not getting increments, worth an average €1,000-€1,500 a year.

WORSENING

The ASTI warned last night that discontinuation of the supervision and substitution (S&S) allowance would provoke a strong reaction -- and inevitably lead to a worsening of the dispute, which has caused disruption in 70pc of second-level schools this term.

A senior Department of Education official yesterday wrote to the ASTI outlining "clearly" the position in relation to the supervision and substitution payment.

Assistant secretary Pat Burke said that in the event of rejection, the allowance would be discontinued, but that payment would be made for work up until the point of discontinuation.

The letter did not fix a date for cessation of the allowance, but the ASTI has interpreted it as meaning that it would be paid for work carried our prior to the result of the ballot, which is due the week before Christmas. In other words, they would be paid for doing these duties between September and Christmas.

In his letter, Mr Burke said the "financial cost" to ASTI members in this scenario "greatly outweighs the value of any payments due on foot of supervision and substitution".

He confirmed that, in the event of ASTI members accepting the HRA, the terms and conditions of the deal would apply retrospectively to July 1, 2013.

Irish Independent

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