Thursday 18 January 2018

Strike fears recede as teacher unions opt for ballot on Haddington deal

Martin Frawley

UNIONS representing secondary school teachers have finally agreed to put the public service Haddington Road agreement on pay and productivity out to ballot.

The decision followed a lengthy meeting in Dublin yesterday of the executive of the TUI and the Asti, which represents over 25,000 secondary school teachers.

The move also lifts the immediate threat of industrial action in schools in autumn.

Last month, both unions rejected the Haddington Road agreement, claiming it did not represent sufficient change from the original and harsher pay cut proposals under Croke Park II to even put it out to ballot.

However, both unions have yet to decide whether they will recommend members accept or reject the deal or leave it up to the members to decide.

The ballots will take place "as soon as practicable" and it is likely to be when secondary schools re-open after the summer.

John MacGabhann, general secretary of the Tui, said the union remained opposed to the "draconian" legislation introduced by Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin, which imposes harsher pay cuts on unions that don't sign up to Haddington Road.

"This is a draconian piece of legislation, which has serious implications for trade unions. But you get the real voice of the members through a ballot and the union should ensure that they have that democratic right," said Mr MacGabhann.

Pat King, general secretary of the Asti, said the union was still of the view that the Haddington Road proposals were a "significant imposition on members who have already suffered cuts".

"But the union's standing committee were of the unanimous decision that members should be balloted on the new deal," said Mr King.

The Asti decision will be referred to the union's larger central executive, which meets in August. The decision is a boost for Mr Howlin, who wants to cut €1bn off the public service pay bill by 2015.

Also yesterday, gardai, nurses and psychiatric nurses, who had all decisively rejected Croke Park II, voted overwhelmingly in favour of Haddington Road.

Members of the rank-and-file Garda Representative Association voted to accept the terms of the Haddington Road agreement by 84pc to 16pc.

Mr Howlin welcomed the favourable ballot results and said he looked forward to implementing the agreement with those unions that have endorsed it.

Irish Independent

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