Belfast Telegraph

Teaching unions in ballot warning

Teachers will be balloted on strike action in a warning to Government not to enforce unilateral wage cuts.

The three teacher unions have ratcheted up pressure on the coalition, which remains set on shaving 300 million euro from the public pay bill despite the collapse of Croke Park II.

Irish National Teachers' Organisation (Into) general secretary Sheila Nunan said the ball was in the Government's court to come up with an alternative.

"Any move to unilaterally cut teachers' salaries or worsen working conditions will be strongly resisted up to, and including, strike action," she warned.

Into, the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) and the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) will ask their members to vote next month on industrial action. If they vote in favour, the action would be triggered in the event of the Government cutting their salaries without negotiation.

Earlier, Tanaiste Eamon Gilmore said the coalition would need to hear assessments from all the unions as to why their members rejected the much-heralded pay deal. He insisted there was no way of knowing at this stage whether the agreement was voted down by women for being anti-family.

"A feature of the public service generally is the high number of women who are employed in the public service. And that is right across the public service," Mr Gilmore said. "But I think we need to hear the assessment that the unions make of the reasons why the agreement was voted down."

Croke Park II collapsed after Siptu members rejected the advice of the trade union's own executive and voted against it. Teachers, nurses, doctors and members of unions representing the highest and lowest paid civil servants also rejected the deal.

The agreement, published in February by the Labour Relations Commission, included plans for straight pay cuts. These would see someone on 100,000 euro down 6,000 euro, and someone earning 160,000 euro down to 149,100 euro. Increments would be delayed under the deal, premium rates for overtime cut and special rates like the so-called "Twilight'' money paid for working 6-8pm would stop altogether.

Unions across the board have threatened strike action should the Government impose the cuts, but the teacher unions have become the first to signal plans to ballot members.


From Belfast Telegraph