'No change' on pay deal, ASTI told
Talks to end dispute will not include 'wiggle room' on Haddington deal
THE Government last night warned the Asti teachers' union that any talks to end their disruptive dispute will not allow any change to the Haddington Road deal.
"There is no wiggle room whatsoever on Haddington Road," a senior Government source said last night.
"It is in the hands of Ruairi Quinn, but there is no chance of the wider deal being reopened," the source added.
Talks between Education Minister Ruairi Quinn and the Asti are not set to begin until after the mid-term break, as the minister will be in Brazil on a week-long trade and education mission.
But in the meantime, classes will be cancelled, continuing the toll on students.
The prospect of an end to the impasse between Government and the Asti emerged amid mounting concern that schools are closing to allow for parent-teacher meetings to take place. The industrial action by the 17,000-member Asti includes a ban on meetings outside school hours, forcing principals to hold them during class time.
The Asti began action earlier this month after it rejected the Haddington Road Agreement on pay cuts and productivity, insisting that the education system was overloaded and had suffered too many cuts.
This weekend, Mr Quinn raised the possibility of talks and said he would be open to exploration by his officials with the teacher unions, specifically the Asti, to see what kind of things they would like to talk about.
But he again insisted that while he can "talk to them about education matters, I can't talk to them about the terms and conditions of the Haddington Road Agreement".
In response, Asti general secretary Pat King said he welcomed what Mr Quinn had to say. "We have to go through that window now and seek a resolution of the dispute," said Mr King.
He said that the Asti wanted to address some aspects of the agreement that, he claimed, would not cost the State anything.
Mr King also said the Asti had never said it wanted to dismantle the Haddington Road Agreement. He said the union would like to see talks about issues in the agreement as well as wider matters in the area of education.
The Asti is the only union in the public service to reject the Haddington Road deal.