The words below are from the inspirational Noelle Moran ASTI, who posted them as a comment on our VFT Facebook page.
We felt that her words deserved more space, so here they are. Well done, Noelle and ASTI. We call on all Teacher Unions to stand up against Government bullying of teachers. (The article to which Noelle refers is linked at the end of this piece). Thank you, Noelle. Solidarity with ASTI.
Noel Moran: “As the person interviewed for this article, I was disappointed that some points made by me over the phone to contribute to this article did not make it to the finished piece and there are others presented here I feel need clarification. There are also inaccuracies here I want to correct. As a result I wrote this piece and copied it beneath the article on journal.ie, and as it was done, I decided to copy it here. Most people on this page are teaching and are very familiar with the situation but this is for those of you who are not and want more information on what all of this is about:
1. During the term of the Croke Park Agreement 2010-2013 inferior pay rates were introduced for new entrants to the public service in 2011 and 2012. It emerged that the terms of the Agreement did not extend to new entrants which enabled the government to impose this inequality. Unions did not sign new entrants up to inferior pay scales. Pay Agreements mean the unions agree not to take industrial action on issues and as such this issue was not acted upon during the term of CPA. One of the key reasons ASTI recommended rejection of the following agreement, the Haddington Road Agreement 2013 to June 2016 was so that outside of a collective bargaining agreement we could take industrial action so that the government would address this issue. Regrettably on the expiration of the CPA other unions did not remain outside of the HRA so that we could deal with this issue collectively, given that it is a public service wide issue and not just affecting teachers. In spite of a recommendation for ASTI to reject HRA in a second ballot it was accepted and consequently, due to being party to a collective agreement with the government once again our hands were tied and we were not allowed to take industrial action to address the unequal pay. One of the primary reasons we have rejected the Lansdowne Road Agreement is to enable us to deal with this issue. Many people reading this post work in the public sector, and many others have family members who do so, and it is very unlikely people would deem it fair that two like colleagues, irrespective of the job type, should be paid on totally different pay scales. This is unjust. It should never have happened but will continue if we keep signing up to collective bargaining agreements preventing us from taking industrial action to restore a common basic pay scale for all working within a particular profession.
2. Casualisation is a huge problem in teaching with many teachers teaching part-time hours and being made permanent on less than full hours meaning they earn less than full salary. This has become an increased problem since 2004 although the article incorrectly refers to security for new entrants ‘forfeited in 2013’. Some teachers have contracts which will eventually lead to permanency; others do not. For those who do not have contracts leading to permanency, under HRA the government promised to establish a panel which teachers could have access to after a certain amount of service in different schools which would help them towards obtaining more secure employment. The promise of a panel was one of the very few positives promised by the government under HRA. They had 3 years to establish this panel but talks have not even commenced on setting this up. Teachers delivered on their commitments under HRA and the government reneged on theirs but still expect teachers to sign up to another agreement. This is unacceptable and hard to believe!
3. There was a paid substitution and supervision (S&S) scheme for teachers for approx. 12 years up until HRA. The S&S scheme covers yard duty and supervision of classes when teachers are away with teams etc. Under HRA, teachers agreed to do 3 years of this S&S unpaid for the duration of this agreement but written into HRA was a partial restoration of this pay in September 2016 and 2017. This was agreed to as part of HRA not LRA. It was not the case that teachers ‘thought that from June 2016’ we would get extra payment for these duties as this articles quotes me saying; it is that it was written into HRA that there would be partial restoration of this money in 2016 and 2017. There is nothing written into the HRA that this partial pay restoration was to be conditional on signing up to future agreements. Teachers have delivered on the 3 years free S&S as agreed under HRA, but after the event, the government is now saying it will renege on what was agreed to and is threatening not to pay us this money in 2016 and 2017 if we do not sign up to LRA.
4. The government intend to use FEMPI legislation (the questionable continued legal existence of this legislation is a separate issue) to freeze our incremental salary until 2018. They are also threatening redundancies and the ending of the teacher redeployment scheme, the withdrawal of a faster route to permanency for those who qualify for permanent CID contracts in addition to the threat not to make the S&S payments promised and agreed to. This list is not exhaustive. There are other threats, financial and otherwise and they have told us there will be future penalties in the medium term if we do not sign up to LRA. An interesting aspect to all of this is is there really a choice anymore? Our union had no say in what went into the Lansdowne Road ‘Agreement’; nor did most other unions. It was presented to us and we were expected to ballot but it currently looks like no union is allowed to actually reject these agreements. The result, as we are realising is a backdrop of threats. HRA was a sectoral agreement for all of the different groups of public sector workers. It is time for the government to revisit the idea of sectoral agreements as agreements dealing with Education, Health etc separately would have more benefits for those sectors than universal ‘one size fits all’ agreements. That said, these agreements will achieve nothing at all if the government chooses to renege on its side of the bargain. Our union has accepted an invitation to talks with the Minister to talk about issues of mutual concern. Hopefully, this will start a process to address the issues.
** On a separate note, the picture used to go with this article is one from a strike day at some point. Today was a Protest Day, during the school holidays as some people who posted comments have pointed out, and there were no strike placards used at the Dáil**
Thanks for taking the time to read this. The issues mentioned above are not all of the issues, but are the ones referred to in the article. I hope this puts some context around the reasons the ASTI has chosen not to sign up to LRA and is reacting to government threats under FEMPI and in general. Thanks to all who showed up at our Dáil Protest today and to all others who wished us well. The solidarity is much appreciated.”