Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Government firm on teachers' pay

The leaders of two teachers' unions are refusing to support the new public sector pay deal

The Government has reiterated its threat to slash teachers' wages after the leaders of two unions refused to support the new public sector pay deal.

While ministers suggested they were confident of ultimately getting the necessary backing for the Haddington Road Agreement, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said opponents of the deal had to be respected.

"We would prefer to have negotiations and reach agreement but in an open society that's not always possible," he said.

"Individual organisations and individual citizens have the right to make their own decisions and we will respect that but we have to regain our economic sovereignty and this decision, painful for everybody as it is, is part and parcel of that."

The Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland and the Teachers' Union of Ireland have refused to give their support to the revised payroll plan. They say it does not go far enough from initial proposals following negotiations on a successor to the Croke Park deal.

They have threatened industrial action. It is unlikely to kick in until the new school year in September and union leaders have suggested it will be progressive but measured.

Siptu executives are in favour of the Haddington deal, brokered with individual unions following weeks of talks at the Labour Relations Commission.

Finance Minister Michael Noonan said he was hopeful all unions which traditionally supported social partnership would back the agreement.

"I was talking to Minister Brendan Howlin yesterday evening and he was quite confident and I think he has done a great job," Mr Noonan said. "It's like on the previous agreement when it didn't go through; everyone needs a bit of space now to consider their position so we don't want to highlight anything too much. Unions will talk to their members and we will see but it is looking good."

The Government will next week introduce new legislation to unilaterally cut public sector pay without consulting workers. The legislation will coincide with unions seeking acceptance of a 300 million euro payroll savings plan from workers.

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