Quinn ready for showdown with teachers over pay deal
THE Government is preparing to get tough in the row with secondary teachers over the Haddington Road pay and productivity deal.
A 'no' vote by the Association of Secondary Teachers' Ireland (ASTI) to the latest proposals is expected to bring swift retaliation.
The worsening dispute threatens the 70pc of second-level schools with ASTI members in the new year.
But Education Minister Ruairi Quinn yesterday warned "there will be consequences to a 'no' vote" and said a contingency plan was being worked on.
His spokesperson would not reveal details, but it is understood the Department of Education officials spelled out the consequences of further rejection of the deal.
The ASTI was told the Government would use legislation to force changes to the terms and conditions of their members, including compulsory and unpaid supervision and substitution (S&S) work.
Legislation was introduced in the summer to allow the Government to impose such changes on public servants in the absence of agreement on Haddington Road.
The ASTI is the only union not to have signed up to the deal. It is preparing to ballot members for a third time on different versions of the package, with a recommendation to reject. That follows a meeting of the union's central executive committee last Saturday.
Under Haddington Road, members of the other two teacher unions, the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) and the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO), are now obliged to do S&S without payment.
But it has not been imposed on the ASTI and the 70pc of its members who previously volunteered for the work, in return for an annual payment of up to €1,769, are continuing to do so.
It puts the Government in an awkward position, with members of two unions obliged to do S&S for no money, while ASTI members continue to have a choice – and an expectation of payment.
But Mr Quinn has given a clear signal that another "no" vote from the ASTI will change everything.
Such a move by the Government is likely to provoke strong reaction from the ASTI, however. Members could refuse to do S&S, which could force schools to close.
The ballot of the 17,000 ASTI members will run from December 2 to 18, delivering a result on the eve of the school Christmas holidays.