Government facing industrial action from teachers and gardaí if penalties imposed

The Government could face industrial action by thousands of teachers and gardaí if it imposes financial penalties on them for repudiating the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

Government facing industrial action from teachers and gardaí if penalties imposed

The agreement, which comes into force on Friday, has been rejected by the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI), the Garda Representative Association and the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI).

This means that around 30,000 teachers and gardaí could lose thousands of euro if the Government enforces financial sanctions as part of the so-called Fempi legislation which can be brought to bear on members of organisations that have rejected the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

These sanctions include a freeze on increments for ASTI members and the loss of almost €800 which teachers are entitled from September for substitution and supervision duties.

The ASTI has instructed its members to cease working the 33 unpaid hours introduced under the Croke Park Agreement on public sector pay.

ASTI president Máire G Ní Chiarba said teachers have experienced a significant deterioration in their working conditions in recent years.

“Young and newly qualified teachers have been disproportionately affected due to the introduction of new pay scales and new pension arrangements. Many of these teachers are unable to obtain secure employment and do not earn a full salary,” she said.

However, the union has said it has accepted an invitation from the Minister for Education and Skills Richard Bruton to discuss “issues of concern” to the union and the minister.

On Monday, the GRA said it will not re-enter talks on the LRA. It said a pay review was promised under the previous national deal — the Haddington Road Agreement — but this was never carried out.

President of the GRA, Ciarán O’Neill, said if financial penalties were imposed on gardaí then he would expect industrial action to be taken.

“If the Government imposes penalties upon our membership, I am expecting action will be taken — that we will be into industrial dispute.

“A decision has not been made in respect of that just yet, as to what the actions our members will take, but as I say, nothing is ruled in and nothing is ruled out,” he said.

The AGSI is due to meet to today to consider its position.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Paschal Donohoe has said he has a duty to respect the decision of 280,000 public servants who have signed up to the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

“The Government does want to engage with them but in the time that is available to us, but we have to follow the law in this area and the law lays out a process in relation to what will happen if unions decide they don’t want to be part of the Lansdowne Road Agreement,” he said.

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