Sunday 20 October 2019

Teachers demand to have their lost wages restored after nurses win industrial dispute

ASTI General Secretary Kieran Christie. Photo: Daragh McSweeney/Provision
ASTI General Secretary Kieran Christie. Photo: Daragh McSweeney/Provision
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

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

While there is no threat of industrial action, the union is consulting with lawyers about its next step. The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) is furious its members are being treated differently than nurses.

ASTI members were subjected to a pay freeze in 2016-17 because of ongoing industrial action over the radical overhaul of junior cycle. But members of the Irish Nurses' and Midwives Organisation who engaged in strike action in January and February, in a row over pay, were spared similar sanctions.

ASTI general secretary Kieran Christie said they would be making "a substantial announcement" on the matter next Wednesday at the union's annual convention, believed to be linked to its legal advice.

Mr Christie said it seemed nurses escaped the same type of pay penalties imposed on his members in 2016-17 because nurses were "more popular than teachers".

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

Mr Christie said the outcome of the nurses' dispute was a "game changer" for the teachers' association in relation to seeking retrospection for losses suffered.

The Government used emergency legislation, known as Fempi, to impose a pay freeze on ASTI members on the basis 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 sanctions were lifted and the increments restarted with immediate effect.

June has become the standard date for increments to apply, but for teachers whose increment was originally due at a different time of the year, it can mean a considerable time lag and a loss of income for that period.

Irish Independent

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