Wednesday 21 February 2018

Patience will run thin if union fails to swallow deal

Katherine Donnelly Education Editor

The 17,000 members of the ASTI have to remember to post more than their Christmas cards this year.

This week, they should receive a ballot paper from their union, with a request to return it by December 18.

The choice is between rejecting the Haddington Road Agreement again, as they have been advised by their executive committee, or swallowing it, as members of other public service unions have done.

The consequences of rejecting the deal again are no different than they were in the last ASTI ballot a few months ago: members rejected the deal in September having been told that they would lose out on the benefits of Haddington Road.

The price of rejection includes not getting increments, newly qualified teachers not receiving a pay rise and a risk of compulsory redundancy because they no longer qualify for a redeployment scheme.

But the mood has changed since September.

DISRUPTION

Schools have already suffered disruption because of ASTI industrial action, which included a ban on working outside normal hours. That has seen schools closing for a day or half day for parent-teacher meetings.

It has been tolerated in the hope that the dispute would be resolved before the effect on pupils would be even more damaging. But patience will run very thin in the new year if schools face more, and worse, disruption.

There seems no doubt but that schools will be plunged into chaos if it is not resolved before they reopen in the new year.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has warned of a hard line, including the cessation of payments for supervision and substitution work voluntarily done by ASTI members.

The pay cuts and extra productivity introduced under the deal are unpalatable for all. What ASTI members now have to consider is whether the alternative would be even more difficult to stomach.

Irish Independent

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