Monday 20 November 2017

ASTI accepts invitation to talks with Education Minister Richard Bruton in dispute over Lansdowne Road Agreement (LRA) on pay and productivity

Minister Richard Bruton.
Minister Richard Bruton.

Katherine Donnelly, Education Editor

The secondary teachers’ union, ASTI has accepted an invitation to talks with Education Minister Richard Bruton in their dispute over the Lansdowne Road Agreement (LRA) on pay and productivity.

The 17,500-member union has rejected the LRA  and, on foot of that, voted to stop working the 33 so-called Croke Park hours from September.

While the union today agreed to meet with Mr Bruton, there is no sign of any backdown, with the ASTI Standing Committee also issuing a directive to members to withdraw from the 33 hours when schools reopen.

If the row  is not resolved, or on the way to being resolved  before September, a refusal by ASTI members to work the 33 hours could trigger a formal dispute and lead to school closures.

The 33 hours were agreed under the Croke Park pay and productivity deal and, under the terms of the LRA,  teachers are expected to continue working them.

But the ASTI argues that because it has not accepted the LRA, it is not bound to work them.  The LRA comes into effect on Friday, July 1, after  the existing public service pay and productivity deal, the Haddington Road Agreement  expires.

The Department of Education has spelled out to teachers  the consequences of being outside the LRA.  They lose certain protections  offered under the Croke Park and Haddington Road deals and will not get the benefits of partial pay restoration  being offered in the LRA.

Teachers outside the LRA  are at risk of redundancy if a school has teacher surplus and also face  a continuing freeze on increments and non payment of an allowance for supervision and  substitution, which is being partially restored.

In accepting the invitation to talks today, the ASTI did not make  direct reference to the LRA.  ASTI president  Máire Ní Chiarba said they wanted to discuss “issues  of concern” with Mr Bruton,

“Teachers have experienced a significant deterioration in their working conditions in recent years.

“Young and newly qualified teachers have been disproportionately affected due to the introduction of new pay scales and new pension arrangements. Many of these teachers are unable to obtain secure employment and do not earn a full salary.”

The ASTI is in a separate dispute over junior cycle reform.

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