ASTI warned it will lose substitution pay if it rejects deal
EDUCATION Minister Ruairi Quinn has warned he will stop paying secondary teachers for supervision and substitution work if they reject the Haddington Road Agreement again.
The move would affect about 12,000 members of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) who are paid up to €1,769 a year for agreeing to do these duties.
It would light a fuse in the dispute between the ASTI and the Government, threatening chaos in the 70pc of second-level schools where the union has members.
About 70pc of ASTI's 17,000 members volunteer for the work and, if they stopped doing it in response to withdrawal of the payment, it would close schools.
Schools with ASTI members have suffered disruption since early October when the union started industrial action, including a ban on meetings outside school hours.
The ban has led to the cancellation of meetings with parents, or one day or half-day school closures to allow the meetings to go ahead.
Mr Quinn's hardening attitude comes as the union prepares for another ballot of members on the HRA pay and productivity deal, which has been accepted by all public service unions except the ASTI.
The ASTI executive committee has recommended a 'no' vote and, if members follow that advice, it will set the stage for the withdrawal of the supervision and substitution payment.
The minister told the Dail that continuing payment for supervision and substitution work was "unsustainable".
He said in a "final effort" to resolve the dispute with the ASTI, time and space had been provided for recent discussions.
It is the proposals that emerged in those talks that are subject of the new ballot starting next week.
Mr Quinn said it was now up to ASTI members to make their decision, but said he would be "less than frank" if he did not make clear that payment for supervision and substitution "cannot be continued".
Since the introduction of the supervision and substitution scheme about a decade ago, teachers have had the option of volunteering for this work in return for an annual payment.
But under the terms of the HRA, all teachers are required to carry out these duties and for no payment.
That is the new reality for members of the other two teacher unions, the Teachers Union of Ireland and the Irish National, which have accepted the agreement.
Because the ASTI has not signed up to the deal, only those members who previously volunteered to do the work are continuing to do so, with an expectation of payment.
The money is paid twice a year and ASTI members who have continued to do the work while in dispute would expect half of it in March.