Teacher action over ‘wasted’ hours to impact pay

The loss of pay restoration is looming for thousands of secondary teachers after they voted to withdraw from working extra hours they believe are wasted.

The decision by Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) members means they will no longer fulfil the additional 33 hours a year. These hours were being worked since 2011 under the Croke Park Agreement and successor public service pay deals. But the requirement that they be used for staff meetings or other non-teaching functions has angered teachers.

Although the Haddington Road Agreement, under which the work was being done, ends this summer the union's 18,000 members are now likely to fall foul of financial emergency law. They would therefore not see the benefits of the Lansdowne Road Agreement, already rejected by ASTI members, that include an increase in salary of €1,000 for teachers earning under €65,000 from September 2017. 

Increases equivalent to 2.5% for those who earn less than €24,000 a year and 1% for those earning under €31,000 will also be foregone. So too will partial restoration of pay cut from those earning over €65,000, and payment of an additional €1,600 a year in two tranches from next September which would impact lower-paid teachers most.  

In a very high turnout of 76% of members, the withdrawal of the Croke Park hours was supported by 68%, an outcome to be considered today by ASTI's standing committee. The union's president Máire Ní Chiarba said it is a very strong statement to the Government that they are determined to reclaim their terms and conditions following years of cuts and reduced resources.

“They want to be able to get on with their jobs, instead of having to waste time completing bureaucratic box-ticking exercises. The Croke Park hours divert teachers’ time away from core duties such as teaching, learning, and building relations with their students," she said.

“Of necessity, all teachers are doing more with less. However, the Croke Park hours are needless and unnecessary and place additional constraints on teachers’ time and workload," Ms Ní Chiarba said.

Education Minister Richard Bruton told the Dáil soon after the result was known yesterday afternoon that his department recently reached agreement with the Irish National Teachers' Organisation and Teachers' Union of Ireland on 'a quantum' of the Croke Park hours which no longer need to be worked on a whole-school basis such as staff meetings and other uses prescribed by the department.

A spokesperson for the minister expressed concern at the implications for individual teachers, and for major disruption for students and schools from September if the ASTI proceeds with the proposed action.

"We regret that the ASTI has not as of yet accepted an invitation to meet with the department to discuss their issues of concern, however this invitation remains open," he said.


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