Sunday 25 February 2018

More disruption for 300 schools as union votes to prolong action

John Walshe Education Editor

INDUSTRIAL action will continue in more than 300 schools after a serious setback to government hopes for peace in the classroom.

Teachers voted at a special Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) congress on Saturday to retain controversial directives limiting their duties -- despite advice that they are illegal.

The directives prevent members from undertaking extra middle-management duties that increase their workload. They also prevent them from attending parent teacher and staff meetings outside school hours and attending some meetings associated with Whole-School Evaluation.

School managers will this week be trying to assess the impact of the decision. It will affect the running of vocational schools, community schools and colleges, and comprehensive schools where the TUI has members. Secondary schools where the ASTI is the only union involved are not affected.

Clive Byrne, director of the National Association of Principals and Deputies, said it would cause serious problems, especially in schools that had dual union membership.

"The ASTI says parent teacher meetings can be held part in and part out of school hours but the TUI says no -- this will put principals in a difficult situation," he said.

The directive on middle-management duties will also cause serious problems.

Schools had been given a limited alleviation of the Government's moratorium on filling vacant vice-principal posts. Many had been waiting for the outcome of the TUI vote before re-assigning duties. Now there is great uncertainty over how to proceed.


The Government had said the lifting of the directives was necessary before the union could enter talks on the Croke Park public sector agreement.

Both the INTO and the ASTI have already agreed to go into the talks, but the TUI and the Government appear to be at an impasse.

Union general secretary Peter MacMenamin said the TUI was prepared to enter talks on meaningful change through the normal conciliation and arbitration machinery. However, government sources said such talks were not a runner in the absence of lifting the directives.

Instead, an invitation to talks is expected to be issued to the INTO and the ASTI. The outcome of those talks will affect all schools.

The sources also said the protections on pay afforded by the Croke Park deal would not be available for TUI members in second-level schools and Institutes of Technology.

There is no immediate threat of more serious action, but the congress directed the TUI executive to draw up contingency plans to deal with any attempt to impose the Croke Park deal.

Meanwhile, a deadline of Thursday is looming for all government departments and agencies to outline how they intend to deliver the Croke Park Agreement.

Irish Independent

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