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

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4 thoughts on “On the anger of post-2011 teachers 

  1. I’m an INTO member and I repeatedly told you that I stand with ASTI in their search for FULL equal pay. The fact that the other unions have sold their LPTs short to get a deal for the media and pat themselves on the back shouldnt mean that the ASTI should follow suit. Yes, they are weaker because of the split but it is the ASTI that are making the correct stance in demanding full equality for their Post-2011 teachers. Im not sure anybody agreed with you during that debate yet you seem to feel righteous enough to get on your soapbox here and act as if continued negotistion is the only answer. I’ve been on lesser wages for almost 6 years now, waiting for negotiations to be completed, how long more should I wait? This new deal is a complete slap in the face for me and other 2011 starters and the staged design means that even 2012 starters dont see meaningful pay increases for years as well. This all serves to work in government’s favour in their quest to kick the can down the road another few years while continuing to devalue our profession. All Lesser Paid Teachers, regardless of union or level, want FULL and complete equalisation with their colleagues. It shouldnt be a shocking request and it shouldnt take a decade to achieve.

    1. I think I need to be clear with you: I do not speak for primary school teachers or their union. You do not know the workings of the ASTI, I don’t expect you to, but this particular blogpost is intended for ASTI members to think again about the ‘strategy’ we are following.
      I don’t know what split you refer to but I can say unequivocally that as of now members of the TUI and INTO are better off than those in the ASTI in terms of both pay and conditions.
      It matters little to me if anyone agrees with me or not (some do) but seem to miss the point of having a blog: this is my soapbox, I designed it that way, I get to say what I think without a filter and I happen to think that far more can be achieved through using negotiation as a tactic than just wailing about the situation.
      The agreement eliminates a whole pay scale. That is progress, what I didn’t get at any stage from the debate was a reasonable way to achieve full equality by following an alternative strategy of industrial action with no discussion, even internally, of a resolution. Trade unions make agreements and compromise. Promising that this will be achieved by a few hours on a picket line is dishonest and this blog has always attempted to inject some reality into teacher trade unionism.

  2. Fintan, it is easy to be critical of the efforts of those brave people who are willing to sacrifice their badly needed and quickly depleting day’s salaries in order to fight for those vulnerable young teachers, many of whom are being exploited and are voiceless . Surely we all remember the days when we simply were afraid to jeopardise our job prospects by saying no. Now they are expected to say yes. Yes to short contracts. Yes to lower starting salaries. Yes to inequality in the workplace. Provide us with a workable alternative to our strike action fintan before you castigate our actions. We cannot deny that strike action has succeeded in better pay and conditions in the past and, more recently, for other unions.

    1. Our strike? Can we please have the ballot first? Can we acknowledge that a successful industrial action has to be thought through, all outcomes planned for and the possibility of success weighed? There is nothing brave about the dishonesty of telling those weakest members of our profession that everything they need will be delivered in their entirety and without a quid pro quo.
      I also find it fascinating that I am admonished in comments on my blog for speaking my mind. When I posted comments in the past on blog which gave the opposite to my view, they were deleted. Having an opposition view is healthy for any organisation and believe me Marian, your opening sentence is incorrect: it is by no means easy to tell the truth in a situation where lies are being told an accepted as gospel.

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