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Pupils face prospect of teacher protests

PUPILS are returning to the threat of disruption in schools in coming months as teachers protest over pay and pensions.

There is no immediate risk of school closures due to strike action, but teachers will refuse to cooperate in a number of key areas.

Pupils will suffer in lost tuition time as teachers insist on all meetings with parents and on school planning issues taking place within normal class hours.

As well as rolling back on concessions, such as attending meetings outside school hours, unions will also refuse to cooperate with any new changes designed to improve the quality of education.

Teachers will also insist that in-service training -- a routine feature of teachers' professional lives to keep them up to date on curriculum change -- can only take place during school hours.

While teachers lost the battle over pay, with cuts of 5pc-8pc announced in the Budget, a new front has opened on pensions.

Over 50,000 primary and post-primary will feel the effects of the pay cut from this week and Finance Minister Brian Lenihan has announced a review of pension entitlements.

Teacher unions are committed to a campaign of resistance to the cuts and will consider detailed plans at meetings this month.

According to the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO), average take-home pay for teachers has decreased by more than 17pc in the past 12 months.

The extent of the loss of take-home pay ranges from 15.2pc for a teacher starting out to nearly 19pc for a principal teacher at the top of the scale.

The union said, on average, public servants have had to endure reductions in take-home pay that are three times higher than in the private sector.

As the unions see it, the pay cuts have released them from obligations to continue delivering concessions agreed during the benchmarking era.

Irish Independent