The Government and the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland have come up with proposals that may finally see the union sign up to the Haddington Road Agreement.
ASTI was the only public service union to reject the pay deal and its 16,000 members have been on industrial action for over a month, including a ban on parent-teacher meetings after school hours and refusal to do work created by middle-management vacancies.
Informal talks in recent weeks between officials from ASTI and the Department of Education led to formal discussions between both sides yesterday.
Five proposals emerged:
- The use of the 33 extra hours a year teachers are committed to working under the Croke Park deal:
ASTI members had been unhappy that they were wasting these extra hours in initiatives such as “whole school” meetings.
The two sides have agreed there will be joint meetings between unions and management on how to use those hours most effectively.
- Implementation of the new junior cycle:
ASTI members have significant concerns about the contents of the programme for the junior cycle.
A union spokeswoman said they had now received an acknowledgement from Education Minister Ruairi Quinn of those concerns.
A working group will be set up to examine them.
- Supervision and substitution:
The minority of teachers who were not signed up to provide supervision and substitution but who would have been forced to do it under HRA, will now have the opportunity not to sign up to it if they take a reduction in pay equivalent to the old S&S rate.
- Middle management posts:
ASTI has received a commitment that measures to alleviate the worst effects on a ban on middle-management promotions will be continued, meaning several hundred potential appointments in this school year.
- Temporary and part-time teachers:
An expert group will be appointed to address the fact that up to 30% of secondary teachers are part-time or temporary. The ASTI spokeswoman said the department acknowledged the situation was “unsustainable and damaging.”
The proposals will be put to a meeting of the union’s larger 180-member central executive on Saturday to decide whether to re-ballot all the ASTI’s members on HRA in conjunction with the new proposals.
A spokeswoman for the department said: “Minister Quinn welcomes the progress made and hopes this brings a resolution to this matter.”
National Parents’ Council-Post Primary president Don Myers said it is welcome that progress appears to have been made and hoped schools return to normal as soon as possible.
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