16 teachers suspended for co-operating with JobBridge

A teachers’ union has suspended 16 members for up to five months over the last two years for breaking a ban on co-operation with the JobBridge internship scheme.

Fine Gael TD and former primary principal Jim Daly said the policy prevents newly-qualified teachers from getting experience.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) said 31 teachers, mostly principals, were the subject of 63 complaints in 2013 and 2014 when teaching jobs were advertised through the internship scheme. It has not taken action against any teachers who took up positions filled by primary schools through JobBridge in breach of the policy.

The union introduced a directive prohibiting its 35,000 members from participating in any work for the scheme in December 2011. It says qualified teachers should be allowed to gain experience through fully-paid work, instead of the weekly €50 paid in addition to social welfare that JobBridge participants receive.

Many complaints were resolved locally after INTO officers raised the issue with school management, usually resulting in the ad being withdrawn. However, complaints against 24 members went to hearings of an arbitration committee, with the findings in seven of those cases being referred to an appeal.

As a result, suspensions were imposed by the central executive committee on 16 members, ranging from one to five months.

“The overwhelming majority of INTO members continue to support the union’s directive on the JobBridge scheme and try to ensure newly-qualified teachers are able to build a path to permanent employment through temporary and substitute work,” said a spokesperson.

Fine Gael TD and former primary principal Jim Daly said the policy prevents newly-qualified teachers from getting experience. However, a recently-qualified West Cork teacher told the Irish Examiner in 2013, despite the experience it could provide, the inability to count time on a JobBridge internship towards access to teaching-job panels would discourage him from applying.

Niall Carmody, president of the student union at Mary Immaculate College in Limerick — one of the two biggest training institutions for primary teachers — said it has not been brought to his attention as a major concern for students, but only 30 will graduate with teaching qualifications this year.

“It could come up as a much bigger issue next year, when there will be 460 students graduating,” he said. “They are more worried this year about issues like accommodation and the here and now.”

The INTO figures emerge as the National Youth Council of Ireland called yesterday on the Department of Social Protection to review whether real jobs are being displaced by JobBridge internships.

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