- This is the final offer. Would these negotiators get anything extra when the offer on the table is exactly what was on offer before the negotiations began? The Lansdowne Road train is about to leave the station with every other union on board. Anything they get, you cannot have until you accept this offer.
- The line is being spun by some that the ASTI can ‘join the Lansdowne Road Agreement at any time’. What has this been about then? Why campaign, threaten and ultimately close schools when the plan is to join LRA at some future date anyway?
- Running several campaigns at once has been a disaster. Pay equality has, as predicted, disappeared behind the silliness of no-impact action like banning Croke Park hours and a frankly ludicrous plan to stop doing supervision and substitution.
- Anyone who opted to do s&s or who was co-opted into doing it, has not been paid to do it since the start of the school year. A pensionable payment for s&s FOR EVERY TEACHER has been passed up. The only way to be paid for s&s completed, or to come, is to be in a pay agreement; asserting, as some do, that we can claim payment for them ‘at a later date’ will entail doing the work for free in the meantime.
- Being outside a pay agreement is a nightmare for anyone who is in an over quota school and expecting to be redeployed, anyone expecting a CID next September, anyone expecting a promotion, anyone expecting to retire, and for anyone else who could do with the increment that will disappear. For all these people you need to vote yes.
- The campaign to halt Junior Cycle Reform was over in the summer of 2015, but our then leadership couldn’t take the win they had, to their credit, pulled off in cooperation with the TUI against all the predictions. Move on.
- It is almost too late for another minority group among our number: English teachers, another example of this union not standing up for its most vulnerable members. English teachers should get training, their students should be marked for all the work they produce, and teachers should be able to shape their practice themselves, like professionals. The ASTI has denied them all this. The best way to change the Junior Cycle now is to engage with it.
- If you want to be on strike again in the second half of the school year, knowing how little it achieved before Christmas, then by all means vote no, but be prepared to put our most vulnerable members at risk see above.
- If you think a vote to reject this offer will mean never doing Croke Park hours remember this: it this isn’t industrial action, it is just rescheduling parent teacher meetings and staff meetings. The offer includes an increase from 5 to 10 hours of that time to be completed at the teacher’s discretion. Deduct that time from the total and take out parent teacher meetings we are left with two staff days and three one hour staff meetings to complete in a year. That’s what you’re voting to avoid with a no.
- So, Croke Park hours are not going away, everyone in the public service is required to complete them, including the other two teacher trade unions. The only way to get rid of them, if that’s the aim, is to negotiate our way out of it, to do that we have to be in a pay agreement.
- Saying we have leverage in continuing to resist Junior Cycle reform and Croke Park hours begs the question: why were these issues placed on the table in the negotiation at all? The reality is, and always has been that Pay Equality has never been the priority for the ASTI. The only way to solve the issue to make common cause with our sister teacher unions who have already moved on to the next stage: pushing for the PME allowance and securing increases at low cost through negotiation for their members.
- To say that our action caused the changes to newer pay scales that was negotiated by the other unions in insulting to them and frankly to our intelligence. If you really believe an offer that was made and accepted in July was only on the table because we were balloting on strike action in September, when the outcome of the ballot wasn’t even known, there is nothing for it but to lament the path we took: instead of accepting an offer to negotiate, our leadership declined, only to put the same offer to us months later.
- To post-2011 teachers: your willingness to fight for equality has shown all of us up. Your situation has not been taken seriously enough. One of the few positives of this campaign has been your story getting through to the public. Nonetheless, you have been over-promised: you were told it was equality or nothing, but unions don’t work like that. You need to stay involved to keep the pressure on, but there is no pay equality outside and fighting alone.
- Don’t believe the hype about the Garda deal ‘outside the trade union family’. If being on the outside is so great, why are the Garda representative bodies so anxious to come into the family? And when someone says the Guards got a great deal, we can get a great deal, remember two things: they have professional negotiators and they didn’t have to take a single strike day.
- The negotiations have been marked by ineptitude. Do you believe that those who came back with nothing more than was on offer before we closed schools will go back and get some undefined extra concession? The unprofessional and ill-disciplined way this whole campaign has been run tell us that whatever cards we held going into the talks are gone.
- Fempi, the root of all evil, is only being used against the ASTI because we asked for it. When we voted to withdraw from Croke Park time, the government did what they told us they would do: they withdrew the good stuff about pay agreements: redeployment, the Ward Report covering CIDs, payment for S&S and so on. They told us they would do this in the autumn of 2015 and our leadership chose to ignore the warning. Some people say we have been bullied, it isn’t bullying if you asked for it, it’s masochism.
- It isn’t the fault of the newspapers, or the other unions, or any outside body that we find ourselves in this situation, it is our own fault. We listened when they promised all our problems would be solved, that the government would cave, or maybe even fall when we stood up to them, that we could get a separate ‘sectoral deal’ for a single union, even though we had no support, no public backing, all to make the ASTI great again.
- The only way to restore the good name of the ASTI is to accept this offer, lick our wounds and within our union, OUR union, call out those responsible for this debacle and insist they take responsibility for the mess. If you vote no, you are handing the responsibility for solving all these problems to people who have singularly failed to get any of what they told you they would get you. Voting no will send the ASTI into a spiral of decline that will mirror and multiply the decline we suffered a decade and a half ago.
- There was another way: we could have campaign vigorously for acceptance of the final offer on Junior Cycle Reform (some people did), taking it off the table, we could have engaged alongside our sister unions and achieved gains for teachers who qualified since 2012, we could have avoided the complication of strike and closing schools on succeeding days, we could have moved on, as has the rest of the trade union family to renegotiating LRA to the advantage of all teachers. But not doing Croke Park hours and doing s&s for free were far more important than any of that.
- If you want your action to be limited to lunchtime protests and the like to in effect wag your finger at the problem rather than actually do something about it, then vote no, but if our leadership had the courage of their recommendation to vote no, wouldn’t you expect them to also have the courage to close schools and hit exams? Wasn’t this a do or die issue in the autumn? The news that work-to-rule action is the limit of their confidence and planning if the offer is declined says it all: this is over.
We might have expected that the trust thus far shown by ASTI members in their leadership might have been reciprocated with an honest acknowledgement of the seriousness of the issue in a recommendation that allows members to chose an exit from this debacle. Furthermore, in most organisations when you dig a hole this deep, you accept responsibility and at least apologise, but this isn’t a functioning organisation. Instead we have the persistent appeasement of a tiny band of extremists who tried to avoid a ballot of members at all and now want to drive our union into the dust.
This is over. It is time to move on. Vote Yes.
CEC member 2003-16
Standing Committee 2011-16
ASTI member since 1993
Responses/comments welcome as always