Sunday 26 May 2019

Teachers' €106m supervision pay set to be slashed

Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

TEACHERS are facing drastic cuts to their €106m-a-year supervision and substitution payments – as well as longer teaching hours.

The demands will be made in talks on an extension to the Croke Park agreement on pay and productivity.

It will spark a furious reaction from teacher unions, who argue that they were the first to agree extra hours under the original Croke Park deal.

Teacher unions will also resist attempts to abolish the supervision and substitution payments, which they regard as part of core pay.

Increasing the amount of teaching time at second-level is particularly attractive for the minister because of the potential for payroll savings.

While Irish primary teachers work 29-30 hours a week, at second-level the contract is for 22-23 hours per week.

So, at second-level, every 22-23 extra teaching hours gained would amount to the equivalent of another teacher.

While Irish primary teachers' working hours are close to the international average, at second level they are about one-third below that figure.

Irish teachers actually spend more time teaching than colleagues in other countries, but don't have the same liability to be available for other duties.

In many countries, teachers are contracted for about 30 hours a week, and in some it is as high as 40.

Resistance

Irish teachers will argue that they do extra work outside school time, such as correcting homework, which may be done during a longer school day in other countries.

Apart from the unions' resistance to longer working hours, the differences in working arrangements between the primary and post-primary sectors will make it problematic.

Teachers, at both levels, have the option of signing up for supervision and substitution, for which they are paid extra.

Under the scheme, teachers are paid to supervise students during breaks and before and after school and to substitute for colleagues on absence.

Previously, teachers did this work on a voluntary basis but they withdrew their goodwill in a pay dispute a decade ago.

The annual rate for those who signed up before January 2011 is €1,769, while those contracted after that date receive €1,592.

At primary level, the scheme cost €57m last year, while the payout in post-primary schools was about €49m.

Meanwhile, union leaders are continuing to object to compulsory redundancies in the new Croke Park II deal.

Government officials and union leaders will meet again tomorrow to agree a timetable for talks.

But SIPTU vice president Patricia King said trade unions exist to represent the best interests of their members and recommending they be "sacked" was not in their best interests.

Opposing compulsory redundancies was a fundamental union position in both the public and private sectors, she said.

Irish Independent

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