Teacher unions open to reform talks

ALL four teacher unions are now open to discussing possible work reforms, despite three of them rejecting the Croke Park public service pay deal in recent ballots.

The leaders of two unions yesterday reaffirmed their opposition to the agreement, but indicated they would seek greater detail on the proposed reforms from Department of Education officials so they can consult their members on the issue.

The position adopted by the executive of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) may be seen as a reversal of its decision not to enter negotiations last week.

But the issue was reconsidered after the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) standing committee decided earlier this week to enter preliminary discussions with the department to seek clarification of the deal’s reform elements.

A TUI statement said the executive committee restated its opposition to the proposals and will not take part in discussions on their implementation. However, in order to be able to consult with members before any engagement on the reform proposals, the union will meet the department so as to be adequately informed and to enable it to consult members fully.

The executive of the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) decided yesterday it would enter talks as long as what is to be discussed is clear beforehand and that anything negotiated would be subject to a ballot of members before it could be agreed.

IFUT general secretary Mike Jennings said the Croke Park deal limited the union’s ability to consult the membership on proposed reforms, which include an extra hour a week of teaching, a review of academic workload and a review of lecturer’s contracts considered by members to be completely open-ended.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation was the only one to back the deal and is preparing to enter discussions with department officials.

For primary and second level teachers, conditions attached to the deal’s guarantee of no further pay cuts include provision of up to an extra hour a week for school planning and other activities.


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