Written answers

Wednesday, 2 November 2016

Department of Education and Skills

Industrial Disputes

Photo of Joan BurtonJoan Burton (Dublin West, Labour)
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133. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills his views on whether second level schools will close on dates other than those formally set out as strike days by the ASTI as a direct result and consequence of the withdrawal of ASTI members from supervision and substitution duties; if his Department will pay the wages of ASTI members who present for work on those days but who are unable to teach students because of the closure of schools; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32629/16]

Photo of Richard BrutonRichard Bruton (Dublin Bay North, Fine Gael)
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It is important to note that there are four separate industrial actions being carried out by ASTI currently - two of which are directly at play in the current dispute:

- Firstly, a series of one-day strikes by ASTI members on the issue of new entrant pay, which started on 27 October and continues on six additional days from 8 November; and

- Secondly, the withdrawal of ASTI members from supervision and substitution duties on an indefinite basis starting from 7 November.

Since the Haddington Road Agreement, supervision and substitution duties are a core part of teachers’ duties. The ASTI action to withdraw from S&S duties from 7 November makes widespread school closures inevitable from that date. This is because ASTI have refused to provide the necessary cooperation to allow workable contingency arrangements to be put in place.  Their standing committee considered the request of the Department for co-operation and took a firm decision to reject this.  Nevertheless, as part of our obligation to do everything possible to support schools to stay open after 7 November, we are supporting schools to recruit other people to carry out this supervision and substitution. 

Where schools close as a result of ASTI’s withdrawal from supervision and substitution duties, teachers who have not made themselves available for S and S will not be paid for those days. It is normal industrial relations practice that, where workers in industrial action withdraw from core elements of their work, resulting in the closure of the workplace, that those workers would not be paid for those days.

I have continually stated that dialogue between my Department and the ASTI is in the best interests of schools, parents, students and teachers.  My Department has been having ongoing discussions with the ASTI in relation to issues of concern and talks are continuing this week.

In relation to new entrant teachers, there is a deal on offer to ASTI which would see pay increases of 15% and 22% for new entrant teachers, with further benefits in terms of working conditions, and a route to further possible improvements after that through the Public Pay Commission.

Under the proposed deal for new entrant teachers which is being implemented for the INTO and the TUI and which is potentially on offer to the ASTI:

- The starting pay for new entrant members will increase by 15% between 31 August 2016 and 1 January 2018 (from €31,009 to €35,602).

- An individual member recruited since 1 September 2015 will see a 22% increase in their pay between 31 August 2016 and 1 January 2018 (from €31,009 to €37,723).

In relation to the withdrawal from supervision and substitution, there is also a deal on the table which would see payments for supervision and substitution restored, as well as a whole series of other benefits if ASTI agree to carry out the 33 ‘Croke Park Hours’ and suspend their industrial action.

This is at the heart of this dispute – less than an hour a week, agreed in previous public pay deals, to allow schools host planning meetings and parent teacher meetings outside of school time.  Similar hours are worked across the public service – in fact most public servants agreed to 100 extra hours per year, compared to 33 per year in the education sector.

Unfortunately, ASTI have refused this offer thus far, but it remains open to them. Hopefully this dispute will now quickly move into a phase where the ASTI is willing, for the first time, to seriously engage with the potential for resolution. 


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