Tuesday 20 February 2018

Gardaí and teachers who won't sign Lansdowne deal hit by freeze in increments

Richard Bruton: Disappointed by the ASTI’s decision. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Richard Bruton: Disappointed by the ASTI’s decision. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Anne Marie Walsh

More than 600 teachers and gardaí have suffered a freeze in increments worth between €1,000 and €3,600 because they have not signed up to the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

The Department of Education revealed that 519 secondary teachers have been affected by the halt on the payments, which are normally made each year.

A further 97 trainee gardaí who were due to move from a salary of €23,750 to €25,727 have also been hit since the freeze began at the start of last month.

The pay freeze came into force under emergency legislation on members of unions who have not backed the Lansdowne Road deal.

Although the agreement restores pay cuts worth in the region of €2,000 each to public servants, it also requires them to work extra hours.

Members of the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI) object to working an extra 33 hours a year, while members of the Garda Representative Association do not want to work an additional 30 hours.

Gardaí also want a review of their pay and conditions promised under the previous Haddington Road deal to be completed before they will consider reballoting members.

Read more: 38,000 health service support staff to ballot for strike action

Read more: Gardai call for postponement of 'punishing' pay freeze as over 100 face losing €2,000

The Department of Education said the ASTI could have avoided the pay freeze if it had agreed to suspend a directive to members asking them to stop working the extra hours.

It said it would have then in turn put the pay freeze on hold until October to avoid industrial action that would shut schools and to allow talks to take place on the issue.

"A suspension to the end of October was suggested in order to provide a realistic time frame for agreement," said a spokesperson.

"ASTI members would be asked to continue to fulfil the requirements of the Lansdowne Road Agreement, including the 33 hours requirement, during that period."

It said the measure was intended to create a more "constructive context" for talks.

"It was also intended to ensure any disruption to schools from September, arising from ASTI actions, could be avoided during the talks period," said the spokesperson.

"The ASTI Standing Committee decided to reject this suggestion. As a result, the immediate implications of the Lansdowne Road Agreement withdrawal arise. These would have been avoided for ASTI members during the talks period if a suspension was agreed."

The department spokesperson said Education Minister Richard Bruton had expressed his disappointment at the ASTI Standing Committee's decision.

She said the ASTI appeared intent on proceeding with its action, which would lead to disruption in the new school year.

Mr Bruton said continuing dialogue between his department and the union was in the best interests of schools, parents, students and teachers.

He said his department would be "seeking arrangements" for talks to continue.

Irish Independent

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