TUI Conference: Equal pay and greater protection against malicious allegations sought

Joe Leogue reports from the Teachers’ Union of Ireland annual congress where equal pay for equal work was called for “as a matter of justice”.

TUI Conference: Equal pay and greater protection against malicious allegations sought

TUI to fight for equal pay ‘as a matter of justice’

Joanne Irwin told the TUI annual congress in the Clayton Silversprings, Cork, the union will “almost certainly” be party to future negotiations on a national pay agreement and that members will be balloted on any proposals that emerge from these discussions.

She said teachers entering the profession after 2011 come in on salaries 10% lower than their colleagues, and are subjected to two new points at the bottom of the salary scale.

“They had a lower starting salary and a longer scale to climb.

“This flurry of discriminatory hits drained morale, sapped enthusiasm, and engendered division.

“It is our avowed intention to undo the damage done by government. Our key demand remains pay equality, equal pay for equal work.

“TUI has led this campaign. We raised the issue before any other teacher union. We secured a mandate for industrial action before any other teacher union.

“Our message to Government is clear and unambiguous: This issue is urgent, as a matter of justice. It is also urgent in pragmatic terms.

“As our economy recovers and the attraction of other areas increases, there is an acute and increasing shortage of teachers in some subject area, particularly Irish, modern languages, home economics and physics.

“There is also evidence of an exodus of teachers to England and the Middle East. Our Taoiseach often tells of meeting a man with a pint in each hand who praises the work his Government has done. I have met many young men and women with a degree in each hand on the emigrant trail who would beg to differ,” Ms Irwin noted.

She made clear the TUI’s intention to seek pay restoration.

“We must also recognise that others, apart from new entrants, have suffered very significant loss over recent years as a consequence of cuts and freezes. We have members who have significant outgoing and commitments, who have families whose needs must be attended to. These members have, to a large degree, suffered in silence. Their silence is about to give way to a loud demand and that demand will be expressed by TUI at the talks.”

Greater protection against malicious allegations

There are little or no consequences for parents or students who make unfounded or malicious allegations against teachers or lecturers, it has been claimed.

Members of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland have voted overwhelmingly in favour of a motion calling for greater protections for teachers who are the subject of such complaints by students or parents.

Proposing the motion, Maria Curtin of the Limerick branch of the TUI said the guidelines in place only allow for findings against those who made complaints which are proven to have been made maliciously.

However, Ms Curtin old the 500 delegates at the congress in Cork it is “next to impossible” to prove beyond reasonable doubt if any allegation is motivated by malice.

“An unfounded allegation should also be treated as misconduct with repercussions,” she said.

She said while clear guidelines are in place to deal with teacher misconduct, the rules are lacking when it comes to dealing with parents or students.

“Our Constitution states that the Republic guarantees religious and civil liberty, equal rights and equal opportunities to all of its citizens.

“Unfortunately over 100 years after this document was enacted this still seems to evade some of us.”

Michael Hennessey, also from the Limerick branch, spoke in favour of the motion.

“This is about teacher dignity, your professional good name, your character, which can be wiped away in 10 seconds,” he told delegates.

“We are not against complaint being made against a teacher, but when it could be career ending, malicious or vexatious, they are very easy to make.

“Parents and students can walk away from this at any stage during any time in the process, without any repercussions.

“We cannot litigate against a parent or a minor for any allegation made against us,” he said.

A later motion debated saw calls for the TUI to “condemn the failure of management to protect staff members against online attacks and cyberbullying”.

TUI delegates will vote on over 300 motions across the three day annual congress, which concludes tomorrow. The gathering will be addressed by Education Minister Richard Bruton today.

Emails and texts ‘are uninvited incursions’ into private lives

Teachers and lecturers are suffering “uninvited incursions” into their private lives because of their managements’ use of texts, email and social media, according to the general secretary of one of the country’s largest teaching unions.

John MacGabhann of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland criticised the “irresponsible and overbearing use” of information and communication technology (ICT) by employers as he addressed 500 delegates at its Annual Congress in the Clayton Silversprings in Cork yesterday.

“The problem arises because some employers regard ICT as a means of putting employees on 24/7 rosters and expect their every electronic utterance to be followed enthusiastically by an instant or near instant response.

“In such circumstances the text, tweet or email borders on harassment and the social media quite frankly becomes antisocial. Our advice to members is blunt — if contacted unreasonably do not respond.

“Better still, turn off your phone, your tablet, your laptop, or all three. Hit the switch,” he said.

Mr MacGabhann also warned against speaking “electronically and therefore indelibly” in anger and advised members to “pause before you press”.

In an address that contained many attacks on the Government across a number of issues, he criticised what he described as a “mulish attachment to a policy of merging institutes of technology, a policy of rationalisation”.

“We hold that it should be open to an individual institute of technology, if it meets the criteria set out and has the requisite scale, to apply for designation as a technological university, without being yoked by violence to another institute that is an unwilling partner.

“The Government should stop kicking itself with its right foot on its left ankle, as the consequence is that everything falls on its backside.

“Rather than obsess about merger, the Government should be ensuring that the conditions exist for progression towards technological universities. Government should invest in the sector.

“Grandiose plans or policies, without the necessary investment, have no foundation in reality. They are an exercise in codology.”

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