Tuesday 17 September 2019

Secondary teachers ramp up campaign for return of money lost during junior cycle dispute

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Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Secondary teachers are ramping up their campaign for a return of money lost during their dispute over junior cycle reform.

Association of Secondary Teachers’ Ireland (ASTI) is furious that its members are being treated differently than nurses, who were not penalised in the same way when they took industrial action earlier this year.

ASTI members were subjected to a pay freeze in 2016-17 because of ongoing industrial action over the curricular changes .

ASTI general secretary Kieran Christie said they would be making “a substantial announcement” on the matter  at the union’s annual convention next Wednesday. 

The union has sought legal advice on the matter.

Mr Christie said it seemed that nurses escaped the same type of pay penalties imposed on his members in 2016-17, because nurses are “more popular than teachers”.

He referred directly to comments made by Taoiseach Leo  Vardakar  in this regard during the nurses’ dispute.

He  said the outcome of the nurses’ dispute was a “game changer” for the ASTI in  relation to  seeking retrospection for losses suffered by his members .

The Government  used emergency legislation, known as FEMPI, to impose  a pay freeze on ASTI members in 2016-17, on the basis that their industrial action was a repudiation of the public service pay agreement.

One of the sanctions  was  a freeze on  increments.  

When the dispute ended on June 10 2017, the increments restarted,  with immediate effect, and became the standard date for  increments to apply. 

However, for teachers whose increment was originally due at a different time of the year, perhaps  September, it can mean a considerable  time lag and the loss of the money for that period.

Mr Christie said the Increments issue  the “stone in the shoe” of the  ASTI. 

Depending on the point a teacher is at in the scale, increments are worth a minimum of about €1,200

Since the dispute ended the ASTI had been seeking  the restoration of the original increment dates for members, and now, as a result of  the nurses dispute, it is also demanding retrospection.

Mr Christie  said while they believed  FEMPI should never have been enacted, but “we take the view that the law of the land is the law of the land and we don’t think it is open to Government to apply the law  to one section of the community and not to another”.

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