Belfast Telegraph

Thursday 31 July 2014

Pay deal would prompt strike ballot

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has been heckled and jeered over the Croke Park pay deal

Teachers and lecturers are to be balloted for strike action if the Government or trade union leaders impose the new Croke Park pay deal.

Delegates at the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) annual conference unanimously passed the emergency motion, which could also see its 14,500 members withdraw from the first Croke Park agreement with immediate effect.

The motion - for industrial action up to and including strike action - called on the Irish Congress of Trade Unions to organise a mass rally of all public sector workers against the proposals.

TUI president Gerry Craughwell said attempts to renegotiate the current pay deal by branding it an extension was a cynical insult to public servants.

"Did Government think they were dealing with complete idiots?" he said to Education Minister Ruairi Quinn and delegates in Galway. "Why has the Government come back with the begging bowl to the public sector? Have we not given enough? Why are the highest paid political class in Europe not looking inward before attacking middle income earners?"

Last month 86% of the TUI's membership of second and third level teachers and lecturers voted against the proposals.

Mr Quinn was greeted with a stony silence as he rose to speak to members, and was heckled once near the end of his address as he called for teachers to work with the Government to build a better economy. A handful of members also held up signs opposing the new pay deal.

On Tuesday he had been heckled and jeered as he spoke to primary and secondary school teachers at the INTO and Asti annual conventions. Mr Quinn claimed Croke Part II proposals would have impacted in a much more significant manner on teachers if it were not for the engagement of their unions.

"I am of course aware that the result of your vote was published last week, and that a significant majority of your membership have opposed the proposals," Mr Quinn said. The minister revealed legislation aimed at making school enrolment policies fairer will be published within months.

Proposals aim to radically alter the operation of waiting lists and stop schools charging parents for applying for a place or attending compulsory open days or interviews and from giving preferential treatment to children of past pupils.

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