6 posts on everything up to and including strike action


This is a primer on how the ASTI got to where it is over the last few months. 

First here’s my concession speech from last ASTI Convention after I lost the election for Vice President. 

Next: 15 things you should have know about the ASTI Ballot on Croke Park Hours before you voted

Then read a fact check of the current ASTI position

In broader terms here are  4 things wrong with the ASTI (and one way to fix them).

This is why pay equality is the holy grail

And finally on the anger of post-2011 teachers

Fintan O’Mahony 

Image credit 

One of those classes: children on top of my greenhouse


Child on Top of a Greenhouse 

The wind billowing out the seat of my britches,

My feet crackling splinters of glass and dried putty,

The half-grown chrysanthemums staring up like accusers,

 Up through the streaked glass, flashing with sunlight,

A few white clouds all rushing eastward,

A line of elms plunging and tossing like horses, 

 And everyone, everyone pointing up and shouting! 

 Theodore Roethke 

Thursday was one of those days. One of those classes that just clicked and a group of 12 year olds, without knowing it gave their teacher the belief that good things can come from throwing the plan out the window.

We were reading Theodore Roethke‘s Child on Top of a Greenhouse, having spent the whole month on poetry. We started by linking Bruegel’s painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus with poems by William Carlos Williams and WH Auden about the painting. Looking at paintings is a great way into a poem, the visual, the narrative, the surface and the depth of a painting are great mirrors for how I want them to see a poem: what comes naturally in reading a painting can be taught quickly for a poem. You have to present them with the limitless possibilities in a piece of art: I tell them there are no wrong answers and no judgement but we’ll move ahead when we’re all happy with a suggestion. I like to introduce ‘the maybe’, ‘maybe he’s saying…’ maybe it shows…’

We wrote some poems, haikus about what we saw.

We moved on to First Steps by Van Gogh. I didn’t link this to a poem but used it for a writing exercise for homework and built on the still moment in a painting so we could discuss the stillness in a poem. I didn’t talk about it that way, but talked about a snapshot, or a selfie that captures a fleeting thing forever.

Then we went ‘under the surface’ The Road Not Taken: we discussed the ending first, where is Frost when he tells us the story?, how does he feel about it ?and then the choices he made, the choices we make. All very structured, me taking less of a lead, but still prodding their ideas along, them getting more confident.

Last week we tore into Blackberry Picking by Seamus Heaney to look at the senses and emotions in a seasonal poem that has all the heartbreak of youth, but still an adult’s view, looking back. The haikus they wrote, edited and tweeted in response are here.

So it was all going pretty well before we even got to Roethke. I wanted to do a mirroring exercise: take the poem and rewrite for yourself. That had to wait.

I opened with a joke in the first line, how does the wind billow out the back of your trousers? They smile but set me straight, it’s not flatulence it’s how high up he is! We talk about the onomatopoeic cracks under his feet as he realises how high up he is, we look for other onomatopoeic words. I explain what putty is (the generation gap!) and it’s all going fine. I think it is when we get to chrysanthemums that things take off. I say they are sometimes symbolic of death but I don’t know if that’s what Roethke has in mind. Someone says they’re half grown like the boy. Someone else says he’s going to get killed, not literally but throwing forward to the end, killed ‘like parents do'(!). Then we talk about sunlight and streaked glass, ‘the place the child was in’, ‘he’s up high, he can see stuff he doesn’t see when he’s down low’ and the transition into my favourite part of the poem is ready, so far: 90% their work. Look at those clouds, look at those trees, I say. ‘He can see new things’, ‘maybe he hasn’t noticed this stuff before’, ‘maybe he’s very still, because he doesn’t want to break the glass and everything in the sky is moving’ (no homework for you!), ‘the horses’ manes are like the trees in the wind’  ‘when you said about the chrysanthemums, they were half grown, maybe he isn’t going to be the same after this’, ‘maybe this is when he grows up’ (no homework for anyone!).

‘I think he mightn’t care about the adults pointing up’, ‘they aren’t just adults, it’s everyone’, why does he repeat everyone?, I ask, ‘for emphasis’ (love that), ‘but maybe it was a barbecue and all the neighbours are there, even his grandparents are pointing’ (beautiful). And then this clincher: ‘I don’t think he cares about them being angry.’ I push here, and they divide into two groups, some say ‘he does care, it brings him back down to earth’ (I don’t acknowledged this because I’m floating on air at that stage), some others say ‘maybe he’s a man now, writing this and he knows being up on the greenhouse is the right place to be’.

And I tell my students, twelve year old girls who rode the crest of this poem and didn’t blink an eye, that this has been the best class in my room for years. and as they’re leaving one turns to another and says ‘that was good, wasn’t it?, ‘yeah,’ comes the reply, like they can do this all the time.

And while this doesn’t happen every day, or even week, I’m the better for it, because it makes me reach, and they’re the better for it because it makes them think. I didn’t think once of outcomes, or objectives or process, but I was a teacher in the middle of it all.


image credit

On the anger of post-2011 teachers 


The #edchatie discussion tonight was around the recent agreement between TUI, INTO and the DES and whether it would be accepted in a ballot. I haven’t read every tweet because I was inundated with replies to tweets I posted repeatedly asking the simple question: how will strike action, if it happens, move the ASTI closer to resolving the issue? I didn’t receive a single clear or worthwhile answer. 

What is obvious is that post-2011 teachers are angry and want to direct that anger somewhere. However what is also evident is that they have been given false hope. They have been led to believe that their issue was the key to ASTI rejection of the Lansdowne Road Agreement and a strike will lead to a better deal for them. Neither of these assertions is true. 

First the LRA rejection was never just about the pay scales of post-2011 teachers, unfortunately their issue is being used as a reason to cause chaos for political ends. Of 16 reasons to reject it, one referred to ‘newly appointed teachers’ in this publication

And second any action will only lead us back to the agreement with the other teacher unions. Nobody has given even the tiniest reason to believe the DES will give a preferential deal to the ASTI that goes beyond what is agreed with the other unions already. 

Post-2011 teachers will come to realise they have been overpromised. They have been told pay equality is a short hop away and that was never the case. Restoring pay, as every trade union knows, every union except ours, it seems, is a process that requires negotiation. Progress has been made, ignoring that is dishonest. No clear path to a solution on the issue has been provided by the leadership.

I believe in pay equality. But it cannot be achieved overnight, painful as that may be to hear. Using one group of teachers as pawns in a political game, using their righteous anger, is an unedifying spectacle to behold. 

And by the way: if, as I believe to be the case, this agreement with TUI and INTO was shown to the ASTI, it should be put before members of CEC and ultimately put to a ballot. 

Image credit
Fintan O’Mahony
CEC member 2003-16
Standing Committee 2011-16
ASTI member since 1993
Responses/comments welcome as always
twitter: @levdavidovic
email: natnif2@yahoo.ie

Pay equality: reaching for the holy grail


Victorious warriors win first and then go to war, while defeated warriors go to war first and then seek to win.

Sun Tzu

The pay restoration agreement reached today between the INTO and TUI on one side and the DES and DPER is a major step towards returning to pay equality. The agreement does what many of us though would take years to achieve: it eliminates a pay scale introduced in 2012 for teachers who have been denied both their rightful pay and the allowances many of us enjoy as a right. The agreement does not achieve pay parity for all and both unions acknowledge this. But it eliminates the discrimination against anyone who has or will join the profession after 2012.

The difficulty for some will come from the belief that all the restoration could be achieved in one fell swoop. This view is unrealistic and teachers should be wary of those that offer simplistic solutions to complex problems: anyone who tells you they can achieve more than this by grandstanding and rejecting negotiation is just plain delusional.

The worst part of the agreement for me is that it doesn’t apply to every teacher.When I said above that it eliminates the discrimination against all post-2012, it doesn’t: ASTI members in that position will not be included. This after the leadership of the union having been offered a place at the negotiating table without prejudice, and after having sight of the agreement before it was announced. It saddens me to say that my union is doing a disservice to those teachers who could do with this pay increase and that the ASTI will predictably stand against this agreement in favour of continuing to ballot for strike action in the vain hope of getting more than the other two unions while remaining outside of a pay agreement.

This may not have been everything we wanted, but it is huge progress and, regrettably, today has been another dark day for the ASTI. 

4 things wrong with the ASTI (and one way to fix them)


George Orwell: In a time of universal deceit – telling the truth is a revolutionary act.

In recent times the reputation of the ASTI has fallen off a cliff. Repeatedly our decisions have been based on emotion not on the facts available to us and on a desire to deliberately disrupt, not engage in negotiation. The ASTI has moved from a hard won position of authority and defence of Irish education to a laughing stock.

There is a pressing need for a modern, radical teacher trade unionism, more energetic and progressive than either the ‘toys out of the pram’ reactive, conservative union we have become or an old fashioned ‘just do pay and conditions’ union. Where is it? – this is what is at the heart of the ASTI’s ongoing crisis.



A trade union has to exercise leadership before, during and after a campaign of any sort. It traditionally  uses its power by both leading and at the same time following the members of the union. The power to lead is not enough, exercising that power and continuing to lead are also essential. Members accept or reject the ideas, values and leadership offered not because they have been tricked or indoctrinated, but because they have placed their hope and their trust in decision makers. When those members, those teachers, are separated, deliberately in some instances, from those decision makers, we find ourselves in a union that can claim thousands of members, but, in reality, the overwhelming majority of them have no knowledge of, interest in or accurate information on the decision making process. (The dearth of elections to Standing Committee, the inactivity of members and the difference between an active and inactive member of the ASTI will be the subject of a future post.)

Spoonfeeding members the bald ‘vote yes’ or ‘vote no’ without the whole picture denies them the opportunity to find out the truth about what is going on for themselves.



In a functioning, democratic organisation, everything from a state to a workplace, the use of power is readjusted and re-negotiated all the time. The type of leadership we have now instead tries to secure the consent of ‘the membership’ through their inaction, their emotion or their fear. This kind of leadership constructs a consensus built on sand: a contract between leader and led built on deceit and incomplete information. That is what we have now. (I dealt with this in a previous post about the ballot on Croke Park Hours.) Making decisions based on emotion, as we did on Croke Park hours, without all the consequences in the open undermines a union in the eyes of its members because it allows people to absolve themselves of blame when events take a turn for the worst.

So this leadership has persuaded members to accept its bona fides on strategy (though this ‘strategy’  seems unachievable, if not invisible, to many of us). This strategy seems to assume that one can promise as much as one wants without any clear idea of what that is, or any acceptance of the compromises ahead. (This is what scuppered the acceptance of the outcome of the Junior Cycle: by not having a clear idea of what we wanted, it became very easy to say what we got wasn’t enough.) So now, members have been induced into moving outside a pay and conditions agreement by using the emotive decision on Croke Park hours. We now have leadership without consequences.

The current culture of disengagement needs to be challenged because unless it is dismantled, it is facilitating decision making that has worsened the conditions, and pay, of every member of the ASTI. It has allowed the union to exit a series of pay agreements and put the work of the ASTI as a trade union in jeopardy, sending us down a political blind alley. This lack of engagement extends beyond our own members though, it is a feature of the recent leaders to be distrustful and dismissive of external education parties of all descriptions. The way to ensure isolation is to aggravate and worsen relations with other unions, education bodies, officials and of course the public. It started with the NCCA. A body designed to advise, engage and research in education has become the enemy because of Junior Cycle reform. My attitude to the NCCA and Junior Cycle is easy to find elsewhere on this blog, but I have long advocated making common cause with that body in order to take on the Department of Education. That hasn’t happened at isn’t likely to. This isolationism extends to other unions. Despite the common perception that paid officials are the ones who oppose teacher unity, it is this group of pretend trade unionist who ‘wouldn’t trust the INTO as far as I’d throw them’, or ‘expect nothing better from the TUI, always let us down’. It even extends to turning down requests for support from other non-teaching unions who have members employed in education. And of course we have no sympathy in the DES. Personal relationships matter, but when the prevailing attitude is that any talk is collaboration, not having the back channel contacts means no movement, no solutions, no friends.



We need to explain ourselves truthfully, not with the truthiness that seems to expect action without consequences: it is common sense, it is said, that if ‘they’ attack us we should react. Except there was no attack. If you were paying rent to landlord and were required to keep the flat clean and presentable, a job you resent but know your accommodation depends upon, you would probably, begrudgingly, do it. If you decided to stop doing it, even if your rent was up to date, your landlord would be able to show you your contract, point to the rubbish piling up, and say I can’t renew your tenancy. Is the landlord attacking you? There’s a common sense answer here of course, and it isn’t picketing the entrance to the property.

The way those who lead the ASTI now define the outward facing view of the ASTI is accepted by a core of (loud) members as common sense, the only ‘sensible’ way of seeing the issue at hand. In that climate discussion is rubberstamping, some meetings would remind a history teacher of those old newsreels of the Stalinist Politburo, and any one or group who present an alternative view is marginalised, as I well know. An attitude has developed of  “tutto nello Stato, niente al di fuori dello Stato, nulla contro lo Stato” (everything in the State, nothing outside the State, nothing against the State) where to criticise or question decisions is seen to be traitorous. I have had the experience of being admonished for questioning decisions at Standing Committee, for asking questions at CEC, for for even writing on this blog about how flawed the most recent ballot was. (Details on request.)

What I won’t do here, or anywhere is say one thing to your face, or on this blog, and another when a door closes behind me and a decision has to be made. It has always amazed me how people vote against something on a Friday at Standing Committee and in favour of the same proposal on Saturday at CEC. (This happened on my proposal for a ballot for strike action on Junior Cycle.) The only answer to the question of why this happens is obvious: populism. The unholy alliance of older conservatives with younger populists has turned the ASTI away pragmatic action. It has led to the policy of isolation led from the top. How does this breed a motivated, engaged membership? How is the ASTI reaching out to teachers? Beyond the 4 or 5% of ‘active members’ who knows what is going on?



So call it what is, conservatism: the attitude that the past is where we belong. That what we have we hold, no change, no modernisation, no engagement. An unholy alliance of older Ian Paisley types whose ‘no, no,no’ attitude and those who conceive of the ASTI as a vehicle for confrontation when it should be a vehicle for the betterment of Irish education and those who deliver it.

Teachers by nature are not this kind of conservative, they move all the time, they bridge the divide between the knowledge they have and their students all the time. They change, upgrade, improve and plan ahead all the time, but this leadership doesn’t want any of that. The leadership has set itself against CPD for Junior Cycle (let’s face it we won that battle on almost everything), they have set themselves against planning, against supervising their students, they have set the ASTI against some of the core activities teachers do. And they have done this out of spite. Some have even suggested it is a battle to bring down the government! There is also the great irony of all this coming from people who display the essence of conservatism while claiming to be socialists.

A union, any organisation, has be have ideas and an ideology, those ideas create the climate for positioning and movement and also prevent the organisation from straying too far from its ideals. In both my failed election campaigns (the ones where I was being told repeatedly that I was too young in my mid forties to be elected Vice-President) I called for a written statement of policies and positions to be published by the ASTI. That will not happen because having ideas that are porous, flimsy and easy to recast is easier than having things you might have to stand by: marshmallow is easier to digest than the stuff that’s actually good for you. (Rule 4 outlines the objects of the Association, click the link and see if you think we’re fulfilling even half the things our forebears wanted us to be concerned with.)



Dédiabolisation is a word coined in French for the process by which a group removes from its number those members or those ideas that have caused the group to be vilified. The time has come for dédiabolisation in the ASTI. We have prioritised acquisition over ideas, over education itself. That is why we now need, the repositioning of the ASTI as an outward facing, open organisation of professionals, interested in education, intent on the best conditions and pay for members, prioritising those worst off, in the ways its members approve most of. That’s what teachers do.


Orwell: All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.

This is the first of three posts about the ASTI today.


Fintan O’Mahony

CEC member 2003-16

Standing Committee 2011-16

ASTI member since 1993

Responses/comments welcome as always

twitter: @levdavidovic

email: natnif2@yahoo.ie
Image credit

Fact checking the current ASTI position


Over the summer there has been a rewriting the history of the ASTI. Members have been given several lines of argument on why we find ourselves where we are now. Let’s fact check those lines.


Line one: Cuts to the pay of new entrants were imposed over the heads of unions

The Croke Park Agreement was accepted by a ballot of ASTI members in February 2011 by a margin of 2:1. It clearly stated that it applied to serving teachers only. There has been an attempt to airbrush this from history but even if one checks the extensive Q&A on the ASTI website, no-one asked about that word serving. Uncomfortable, but subsequent to the union accepting this agreement, FEMPI enabled the cuts to entrants pay.

Line one is not accurate.


Line two: this dispute is all about Pay Equalisation

Standing Committee set up a sub-committee to devise a strategy on pay equalisation and agreed to put the return to a single basic pay scale and the reinstatement of cuts to allowances at the heart of every negotiation. (This is what led to changes to the pay scale in HRA and the Ward report on the issue of casualisation in teaching, more below). There was an unwillingness among some on Standing Committee and CEC to take action to support new entrants, even after further cuts to allowances in 2012. One comment I noted from the time summed up their mood: ‘why should we go to a student demo, they’re not even ASTI members’. The contrary view consistently advanced at Standing Committee and CEC (e.g. someday one of the new entrants will be sitting around this table making decisions about your pension) was brushed aside, as was most of the work of the sub-committee. The procrastination of the ASTI in finding a solution on Junior Cycle Reform, HRA, or LRA, along with  the delay in appointing a new General Secretary have all meant that pay equalisation never appeared on the agenda of Standing Committee in 2014 or 2015.  I checked. It was discussed, but it was never of sufficient urgency to make it an agenda item.

Line two is false.

Line three: if only HRA hadn’t prevented us from taking action

Before the ballot on HRA there were those on Standing Committee who wanted to vote no to HRA and still not go on strike: it is further spin for those people to now claim that they wanted to vote no in 2013 so they could go on strike. It is amazing that our negotiators squeezed more out of HRA than any other union without a single day of strike. In December 2013 actually made contingency  arrangements for strike action if HRA was rejected but that if further talks were available following a rejection the ASTI would enter those talks. This is no longer the position the ASTI takes on these matters as evident by the decision of Standing Committee on July 8th not to accept the DES invitation to temporarily lift its Directive on Croke Park hours in advance of the outcome of talks with the INTO and TUI on new entrants pay, which are already at an advanced stage.

Line three is disingenuous at best.

Line four: the Government never gave us a panel so they reneged

The panel promised under HRA was to deal with casualisation in the teaching profession. The Ward Report which took effect in a circular in early 2015 was actually an improvement on the proposals from HRA, providing a teacher with a CID after two years instead of three. Peter Ward said: ‘these proposals for a further Supplementary Panel are effectively superseded by the recommendations set out earlier in this report. The recommendations in this report, if implemented, would obviate the necessity of introducing a Supplementary Panel as proposed in the Haddington Road Agreement.’  There were 1000 CIDs awarded in September 2014, and 1800 in September 2015: the impact of Ward is clear and will lead to further reductions in the number of teachers on fixed term contracts in the years to come. The latest circular from the DES removes this possibility for ASTI members on fixed term contracts as a result of the repudiation of LRA.

Line four is a smokescreen for those who want to say nothing came out of HRA.

Line five: the dispute is all about the Government breaking the deal

To claim, as several public statements have, that the government has reneged on its side of HRA is to ignore the advice given to Standing Committee following a meeting in October attended by the General Secretaries and Presidents of both ASTI and TUI with senior officials from the  DES and DPER that ‘standing still’ and doing nothing would mean that by default the provisions of LRA would be applied to ASTI members.

It is the ASTI that reneged on the agreements by balloting to withdraw from CP hours. For people who liked doing nothing  for years on new entrants pay (see above) to suddenly claim that doing something is the right course and in the process actually proportionately disadvantage those same new entrants and then say they are doing it to help new entrants is difficult to even write it is so mind alteringly confusing.

Line five is either a deliberate attempt to mislead or willfully disregards the warnings given well in advance.

Line six: S&S money should be paid even if teachers don’t do S&S

The restoration of the payment in two stages is permanent and pensionable for every teacher, whether you did or do S&S or not. It has also been claimed that HRA is silent on the restoration being conditional on signing up to future agreements, but how can anyone expect to be paid a pensionable payment for S&S over the rest of their career for not doing S&S? The loss of this payment is not a result of the official side breaking HRA, but the natural conclusion if ASTI members choose not  to do the work.

Line six does not make sense.

Line seven: There are no consequences of being outside a pay agreement

As early as last November Standing Committee discussed at length the consequences staying outside LRA, the outgoing General Secretary provided a detailed document on the topic. For people to now claim they were threatened during the ballot period is to say they were not listening when all possible consequences were fully aired six months before. Furthermore, some of these consequences were deliberately withheld from members during the ballot period on Croke Park Hours by a decision of CEC. So last October, repeated in December and April the list of consequences included in the latest circular were made very clear, it is not surprising therefore that they now appear in a circular.

Line seven is untruthful.

A few other things:

Fighting an industrial relations war on several fronts will wrap LRA, Junior Cycle and New Entrants Pay  into one process and will invite, in the end, a solution that involves movement on one in exchange for giving something on another.

It also has to be said that even now, when the ASTI has set itself against a solution, the Minister is still willing to discuss the issue, but the leadership has decided there is nothing to be gained by talking.

The line about rejecting ‘one size fits all agreements’ is a precursor to withdrawing from ICTU, and this is yet another thing that will get in the way of restoring all teachers to a single pay scale.


And finally…

The attempt to brush away FEMPI by saying the ASTI will challenge its legality is to ignore the fact that legal advice to Standing Committee three years ago said a challenge would be exceptionally costly and ultimately futile. It is also worth remembering that S&S payments and restarting incremental credit can only be achieved through the amendment of FEMPI, so claiming to have a strategy to take action to recover those payments while challenging the existence of FEMPI is not logical.

Fintan O’Mahony

CEC member 2003-16

Standing Committee 2011-16

ASTI member since 1993

Responses/comments welcome as always

twitter: @levdavidovic

email: natnif2@yahoo.ie



15 things you should know about the ASTI Ballot on Croke Park Hours

ballot box 2

I wanted to stay away from commenting on what our union is up to for a while because I didn’t want to leave myself open to charges of sour grapes, or being a sore loser. So I’m going to confine myself to commenting in this post on the upcoming ASTI ballot on 33 Croke Park hours.


First it has to be said that on all fronts, most notably on Junior Cycle and the Lansdowne Road Agreement, there has been no movement and little engagement. This is despite the pressing need to develop a response, a credible response, on the slow decline of teaching as a profession held in high regard: cuts to pensions and new entrants pay (not to mention casualisation), the decimation of middle management in schools and the removal or downgrading of guidance in many schools. In fact, the recent offer of talks on a wide range of these issues was declined by the ASTI. There is no good reason not to listen to what your opposition wants to say. If you are not talking, you are not representing your members, and if you are not talking because you think you know what the other side will say before they say it, you are irresponsible. Genuine trade unionists prize advantageous resolution above all else, but it appears clear that the ASTI leadership now wants not to resolve any of the above issues. For this leadership, action can wait. It will be promised, but it will never happen, rather the issue, whichever issue it is, will be strung out without resolution until members are forced into a corner and have to accept an offer without having taken the action promised. This is what happened on the Haddington Road Agreement, an agreement entered into after repeated negotiation achieved all that could be achieved without a single day’s strike action. There is no chance of resolving any of the issue on which we have decided to simultaneously fight if we are only talking to ourselves. The only conclusion reachable is that resolution is no longer on the agenda for the do-nothings running the show and isolation is preferable to communication.


On the Ballot

With a disillusioned and disconnected membership, it is essential they know the implications of their decisions, particularly when being outside an agreement will put many vulnerable teachers in grave danger. There is a duty to members to inform them fully, if information is withheld a legal challenge is possible.


I believe that incomplete information has been published for members in advance of the ballot. Below I will try to fill in the gaps.


‘Members will be asked to vote Yes or No to the following question: Are you in favour of authorising ASTI Standing Committee to direct members not to fulfil the 33 Croke Park hours upon completion of the Haddington Road Agreement?’


None of the reasons presented in the latest Nuacht for withdrawal from the Croke Park hours will raise a quibble from me. That they are part of HRA and it is concluding unless unions accept LRA as an extension of the earlier agreement is true. The ASTI has not accepted the agreement and has always maintained the work represents a huge imposition on teachers, partly because of its prescriptive nature, and partly because it is largely unproductive. The fact that extracurricular work cannot be counted towards the delivery of CP hours is a bugbear for many of us who coach teams, train debaters, conduct choirs or produce the school play.


It is when we come to the implications of withdrawal from 33 Croke Park hours that the problems with information for members begin. We are all clear that members will not be comprehended by the terms of a collective agreement. The Nuacht makes it clear that FEMPI legislation will apply to those outside LRA. (There is, by the way, no chance of fighting FEMPI while outside an agreement, having antagonised ICTU and other public sector unions in a show of braggadocio).



(information not included in the latest Nuacht in bold)

The Salary increase of €1,000 for teachers earning less than 65,000, excluding allowances on 1 September 2017 will not be paid.

An increase in pay for those earning less than €24,000 (annualised) of 2.5% and for those earning less than €31,000 (annualised) of 1% will not be available.

Half of the previous higher pay cut for those earning €65,000+ to be restored on 1st April 2017 and the other half on 1st June 2018 under HRA will not be paid.

It is also worth pointing out that the ASTI was told in October that these increases would be paid except in the event of a repudiation of the agreement. A Yes vote amounts to a repudiation.


Increments will be frozen until at least 1 July 2018, without a collective agreement FEMPI legislation becomes the method for dealing with ASTI members, and it could be amended again in 2018 to extend the freeze. No table of comparison for what this would mean for salaries over a short or extended period is provided.


There will be no addition of the equivalent of the Supervision and Substitution allowance to the pay scale. This means that the S&S allowance of €1,592 – half on 1 September 2016 and half on 1 September 2017 – will not be paid. There is no calculation as to how much this unpaid flat-rate, pensionable amount would amount to over the course of a teacher’s career. My own calculation is that it would cost me between a half and three-quarters of a year’s pay over the remainder of my career. A flat -rate increase of course benefits lower paid teachers and new entrants. I calculate that without S&S restoration and with an incremental freeze, a teacher below the tenth point of the salary scale could lose €6-7,000 by 2018 . FEMPI will specifically be used to prevent the delivery of this payment, and we would be delivering S&S for free, for the length of our careers with no chance of an opt out.


Teachers will lose the alleviation of the ‘double hit’ for those earning in excess of €65,000. Those who lost the S&S allowance and were also subject to the salary reduction for high earners had their reduction alleviated by the amount of the S&S allowance.


The pay reduction for teachers earning over €65,000 will not be reversed because if HRA doesn’t exist, the government can argue that failure to reach a succeeding agreement allows for the means there exists no facility for paying it.

The publication of various pay scales for comparison of implications on the pay of members in the Nuacht was standard information in the past, I have completed some basic calculations above, but everyone would be affected differently and each voter should look at the implications for salary in voting yes or no.


Will long service allowance continue to be paid? No mention of it in the Nuacht.


Will CIDs revert to the pre-Ward report 3 or 4 year awards? Four years is the norm elsewhere in the Public Service. It appears the ASTI has advice on this which was not shared with members. It is likely that, given recent comments by DES officials that this is being considered.


There is no mention of  where the redeployment scheme will stand. HRA gave protection from redundancy to public servants. Three years ago, while the ASTI opposed HRA, a list of schools over quota was published by the DES in order to make clear who might be targeted for redundancy, a disgraceful move no doubt, but we hadn’t repudiated an agreement then, as we might now. Where the redeployment scheme stands after our decision, yes or no, is unclear.

Parent-teacher meetings and Staff meetings: If we are outside an agreement, what happens to parent-teacher meetings? What agreement covers them and in/out staff meetings? Why aren’t we balloting to withdraw from 45 hours, rather than 33?


Pension related deductions are not mentioned.

The Grace Period for retirees which effectively extends to September 2018 would also be under threat. With hundreds retiring every year, the Nuacht makes no mention of how the result of a ballot would affect this option to retire on the pre-cut salary.


No mention is made of dispute resolution either. In normal circumstances, the WRC would adjudicate in disputes, large and small, without that route, the ASTI might have to resort to the courts directly or negotiate directly with the DES. That does not seem to be on the agenda for any issue at the moment.


The procedures for balloting sent to Stewards make no mention of holding a meeting to discuss the issue prior to voting. Branches have been encouraged to hold information meetings. It remains to be seen how well attended they will be.


I don’t want to tell you how to vote this time, I can see why teachers might want to see the back of Croke Park hours, but I believe that they will only go temporarily. If we are ever to begin discussions with the DES again, they will be back on the table.

The time for a strategy with a clear purpose is long gone.

Fintan O’Mahony