Perhaps it might occur to others (obviously not Ms O’Kelly, article from SINDO below) that those who are entrusted with the formation of our young population at all levels might be genuinely fearful for the ultimate implications of the Croke Park Deal for their students. IFUT after all has only voted for Industrial action once in its history and its “no vote” is clearly a warning bell of the serious damage being inflicted on standards in learning and indeed on critical thinking in our society generally.
‘Copper-fastened’ deal all comes down to the nuts and bolts The cracks are beginning to show already in the Croke Park agreement, writes Emer O’Kelly
“The anti-democratic charge, with its potential to scupper the agreement, has been led by the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) and the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT). It’s hard to believe that the men and women entrusted with the educational formation of many of our citizens at second level, and all of our citizens at university level, can behave in such an unprincipled fashion. At least, it’s hard to believe of the IFUT; we’re used to the outrageously selfish impropriety of teachers at primary and secondary level. But how uneasy does it make you feel to envisage the intellectual elite of the country being taught ethics, philosophy, and particularly, politics, by people who refuse to abide by a democratic, if reluctant, vote? “ (more )
The Hunt Report starts to raise its head
“UNIVERSITY PRESIDENTS are being told to brace themselves for unprecedented cuts which could force them to cut staff and cancel courses.
In a confidential letter to the seven presidents, the chief executive of the Higher Education Authority (HEA), Tom Boland, says he is alerting all colleges now to take “whatever action is needed” to prepare for the next academic year.
Mr Boland advises colleges to budget on the basis that there may be further staff reductions in 2011. He also says the colleges can expect “further reductions in core allocations” and no increase in student charges.
It is clear, he writes, that “overall recurrent funding will be reduced and this is likely to require reductions in pay and non-pay across the sector.””(more)
Redundancies not an Option
2 June 2010
The Irish Federation of University Teachers has reacted with utter astonishment to the prospect of more funding cuts to universities as reported in The Irish Times today, 2 June 2010.
“I note that in a panic reaction to the prospect of more cuts, some university sources are allegedly considering redundancies for academic staff”, said Mike Jennings, General Secretary of IFUT. “I wish to state categorically that under no circumstances will IFUT agree to any compulsory job losses in the university sector”, said Mr Jennings.
“At a time of unprecendented demand for higher education and at a time when we have record numbers of students in our universities, it beggars belief that the Department of Education could even be considering more cuts.”
IFUT calls on the Minister for Education, Ms Mary Coughlan TD, to issue an immediate statement denying these reports.
- ENDS -
For further information on this media release, please contact:
Irish Federation of University Teachers,
11 Merrion Square,
Tel: (01) 661 0910
(087) 677 6747
Public sector reform deal is the best we can hope for says NUI Senator
Joe does not mention the requirement to negotiate changed teaching contracts for teachers and lecturers or the agreement to the continued elimination of posts of responsibility in schools and large numbers of lecturing posts at third level or the damage to collegiality–
Senator Joe O’Toole represents NUI graduates in Seanad. Eireann. He is a former primary school principal, former general secretary of the Irish National Teachers Organisation, and a former President of ICTU. In the most recent election to Seanad Eireann he was nominated by David Begg, General Secretary of ICTU.
Joe is recommending a “yes” vote to the Croke Park Deal
Members of TUI, ASTI and Irish Federation of University Teachers have voted strongly against the Deal. UNITE which represents lecturers in University of Limerick has voted against the DEAL. The Dublin based Education Branch of SIPTU has recommended a” no” vote as has the Academic Section of SIPTU at NUIG
INTO executive recommended acceptance and the members voted in favour though 35% voted “no”.
The only arguments made by Joe (Irish Times, 7 May) in support of the deal is that there is “hope” that pay losses may be restored and union leaders will be able to “influence” changes in the public service.
He makes no mention of the requirement to negotiate changed teaching contracts under pain of continued pay reduction. The failure of the DEAL to halt the wholesale elimination of posts of responsibility in primary and secondary education and the provision in the agreement to make all teachers carry out the duties as additional unpaid work. The huge ongoing reduction in numbers of lecturers at third level and the provision in the agreement to force remaining lecturers to carry out the duties of the unreplaced go unmentioned. The threat to tenure and academic freedom from the redeployment provisions of the agreement goes unrecorded. In a word the Croke Park deal is to be used together with the moratorium on recruitment to devastate the education system, seriously worsen conditions of service and to replace collegiality with managerialism. It would be too much to expect Joe to mention a 4year pay and pension freeze no matter how steep the increase in consumer price index!!
As this is the effect of the deal negotiated by ICTU Public Service leaders, it is clear that public servants would be far better served by depending on their own unions and foregoing the “influence” of ICTU in discussing changes in the public service.
But Joe is well aware of the huge increase in the workload of teachers and the large cuts in education provision inherent in the DEAL. He has state on record:“I met Batt O’Keeffe (Minister for Education) and Mary Harney(Minister for Health) during the talks(Nov/Dec 2009) and they were both salivating at the prospect of getting at the things in the union documents on offer—We are very near an agreement (in current talks) because the deal was virtually done last December.” Senator Joe O’Toole, Former President ICTU on RTE, Marion Finucane, Sunday March 22 urging Government to accept the ICTU offer to Government in December 2009 which became the Croke Park Deal.
But the approach of Joe is not surprising. Teachers will remember his infamous statement in the context of the ASTI dispute. “Benchmarking is just an ATM machine” Senator Joe O’Toole rubbishing the attempt of ASTI to achieve a catch up pay rise outside of Benchmarking which incorporated industrial style productivity dealing in the public service. IBEC have not ceased to quote the statement of Joe since then as part of a campaign for pay reductions in public service. The effect of the statement was to give comfort and ammunition to the enemies of the public service.
Irish Times Fri, May 07, 2010
OPINION: The Croke Park deal on pay and reform is grim but a yes vote will keep the unions in an influential position, writes JOE O’TOOLE
PUBLIC SECTOR workers deciding how to respond to the Croke Park deal find themselves in a conundrum. Inherently they want to do the right thing but they feel it is unfair that they, and private sector colleagues, should have to shoulder the financial consequences of the greedy and reckless policies of our former icons.
It is impossible to contradict those who maintain that it’s the worst deal ever they saw. I’m with them in that assessment. As agreements go this one has to be at the bottom of the pile.
Add to that the fact that there is a complete breakdown of trust and confidence in the Government and, above all, there is a ferocious anger towards it and a firm desire to give the Government a bloody nose and it becomes apparent why it has so few champions.
It was a young teacher who put it at its simplest to me. “I just don’t trust this Government. I don’t believe them and I’m going to vote against the deal. I distrust anything proposed by this Government. Why should we do anything to accommodate them?”
And she had a solid point, reflective of thousands of public servants who find themselves in exactly the same space.
Intuitively I want to lash out against this deal too but strategically I come to a different conclusion. . Some union members are of the belief that they can vote “no”, keep the head down and there will be no change. Unfortunately, not so. The only certainty in all of this is that, whether the vote be won or lost, the Government will have to continue to make savings in public service costs at the next budget. Another certainty is that only after those savings are made can there be any chance of regaining some of the lost pay.
Union members are faced with choices which, though unattractive, are very clear. They can be represented around the table, influencing and informing crucial decisions regarding the timing and implementation of public service reform and fighting for pay restoration. On the other hand they can be involved in a less-than-attractive long-term campaign of action against the Government, seeking the reversal of cuts.
Which is best then? The certain pain and possible gain of such a campaign or the certain advantages from a negotiated set of outcomes as posited in the agreement.
The agreement, bad as it is, does offer hope, opportunity and influence. Hope that we have hit the bottom of pay cuts; an opportunity to begin the reclamation of what we have lost; a chance to have an influence in shaping the direction of public service reorganisation.
As regards paying back the Government, voting against the agreement is not the way. There will be other opportunities to do that. The general election is around the corner.
Public servants with more secure employment and good pensions are easy targets. They rarely see their contribution publicly acknowledged. As with many in the private sector, their pay cuts have been savage and devastating and, like most of the population, every euro of monthly income is spoken for by way of direct debits, standing orders or ordinary living expenses.
Unlike our bankers, these were undertakings honestly entered into on the basis of certainty of income and security of employment. Now, with net pay cut, those public servants, like their private sector colleagues, are struggling to cope and worrying about more cuts and rising interest rates.
The uncertainty is terrorising. If they could truly believe that the deal would end pay cuts and begin a process of reclaiming lost income then they would flock to it.
In that regard, the immediate challenge to the Government is to authenticate its bona fides. To bolster up the deal, politicians must win the trust and confidence of the voting trade union members and convince us of their commitment to both the spirit and letter of the Croke Park document.
If public servants could truly bank the pay assurances in the agreement then there would be a solid level of support.
We’re not being served up a great-looking dish from Croke Park. Hard to find much meat in it and there’s little enthusiasm for the veggies, only the hope that the pudding will be better when it arrives.
It is a big ask but, unappetising as it is, these proposals are the best we can expect just now. And, if we can make them work, not only will we be the winners but also the country and the economy. Voting “no” offers no protection whatever. Voting “yes” at worst offers a sporting chance of beginning the reclamation of lost ground. Let’s go for it..
Letter to Irish Times
Public sector pay and conditions
Sat, May 08, 2010
Madam, – I’m incensed by Joe O’Toole’s assessment of the Croke Park deal (Opinion, May 7th). He quotes a young teacher, whose objections to the deal are based purely on mistrust of the Government – and by extension, not logic, and he goes on to imply that opposition to the deal is a lash-out, knee-jerk reaction.
He also implies that public service interests will not be represented when reform happens, if the agreement is not ratified – the alternative being prolonged industrial action. This is just scaremongering nonsense, based on the false premise that this agreement is the only option open to the public service. This is not only spurious, it is dishonest and wrong. Why was this deal brokered in the first place? It was certainly not negotiated in the interests of the rank and file union membership. The connivance of the ICTU leadership with this Government has manufactured a situation where workers are forced to vote on an agreement that should not exist.
This deal offers workers nothing. This is a Government- sponsored document which bestows draconian powers on employers and Dickensian conditions of employment on employees. If passed, this deal will have dire consequences for all workers in this country, and not just those of us in the public service. – Yours, etc,
Celbridge, Co Kildare.
© 2010 The Irish Times
‘The Lost Soul of Higher Education: Corporatization, the Assault on Academic Freedom and the End of the American University’, (via 9th level Ireland)
“Ellen Schrecker, a history professor at New York City’s Yeshiva University, starts The Lost Soul of Higher Education with a blunt assessment: ‘In reacting to the economic insecurities of the past forty years, the nation’s colleges and universities have adopted corporate practices that degrade undergraduate instruction, marginalize faculty members, and threaten the very mission of the academy as an institution devoted to the common good’ …” (via 9th level Ireland (excerpt) and full article)
(cross post from KPWSA)
Labour Party local representatives have been asked by the recently formed Carlow/Kilkenny Public Service Workers Alliance to state clearly where they stand on the Croke Park Deal.
Hacketstown based Dr. Colman Etchingham of the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) said “the Labour Party has been trying to box clever on this issue. The most recent opinion poll showed a surge in support for the Labour Party. Some commentators have taken this to mean that public service workers think they would get a better deal if Labour was in Government. NOT SO,” he warned.
Colman continued “workers should be aware that the Labour Party has called for even deeper cuts in the public sector pay bill than FF, Greens, or FG! The Labour Party called for 4.9bn in cuts. Ruairi Quinn (ex-Minister for Finance) has been calling for cuts in this sector since 2008! His comments last weekend underline the fact that Labour hasn’t the intellectual originality or political courage to envisage any alternative to public service cuts, even when an OECD report is available to show they are actually unjustified. The pay cuts (1.3bn this year), although catastrophic for lower paid, and severe for middle and higher income earners, actually make little impact on public sector borrowing requirement, beside 22.5 bn to be poured into Anglo-Irish”.
Carmel McKenna said “ Eamon Gilmore has consistently condemned strikes and other industrial actions by public service workers. He did not see fit in addressing his party’s conference to call for an end to the ban on recruitment or for a reversal of the cuts”.
Carmel concluded “It is quite clear that the Labour Party is lining itself up for another coalition with Fine Gael. It will find a good ally in Leo Varadkar, also in favour of further cuts in the public service. It is now time that the Labour Party stated its position on a deal that will force workers to work longer hours in less safe conditions for less pay. This deal is bad for all workers – IBEC and ISME; wait with interest – with a view to pursuing a race to the bottom in the private sector”.
The Carlow/Kilkenny Alliance will be joining in a nationwide campaign to get candidates to sign a pledge that they will reverse the cuts and defend the principle of public service.
For more information Contact Colman Etchingham 0877583908
“Populist comments in sections of the media on teachers’ pay and conditions do not contribute in any positive way to a vision for society or for the future we want for our children. The profession must ensure that it continues to attract the calibre of people that parents want teaching their children.
Teachers are not averse to making a contribution to rebuilding society. We are, however, resolutely opposed to the dismantling of the provisions that have created a platform for the delivery of a modern system of education that will contribute to rebuilding community. Public comment on education should be mindful of all our visions for the future.”(full article)
Department of ED has stated that there will be no clarification of the proposals in the University and Institute of Technology sector. No further clarification will be issued in respect of first and second level proposals.
1. In respect of teaching at first and second level
The document does not say that teachers’ vacation periods will not be reduced. The 167/183 days are for the “delivery of tuition”. Indeed the document ensures that there will be further intrusion on teacher breaks by insisting that “functions integral to the functioning of the school”, which are not limited to the two examples given, must take place outside of school time.
Will the “full availability of the required class contact hours” preclude the continuation of current arrangements under which days leave in lieu of days of attendance at relevant summer courses are provided in primary sector?
THE CLARIFICATION DOES NOT SAY THAT THE ABOVE WILL BE THE ONLY CHANGE DEMANDED BY DEPT OF ED
In addition to the “primary focus” there may be many secondary foci. There is nothing in the clarification to preclude the Department seeking to increase weekly or annual time-tabled hours or the introduction of other changes such as 9 to 5 attendance on school premises. An increase of over 25% in time-tabled teaching hours has already been sought in the Institute of Technology sector.
Under the General Agreement disagreements at negotiations must go to “final”(ie binding) arbitration.
The clarification in the General Document on Pensions is derisory. As there will be no pay rises during the agreement, the question of applying the serving peer principle does not arise!!!. Indeed if the cost of living rises (eg through mortgage increases) occur during the agreement, public service pensioners will not even get cost of living indexation!
Another clarification says that if the government uses the escape clause the deal is terminated. But by the time the first review takes place in 2011, the dates for the introduction of new contracts etc will have well passed. The changes will be irreversible but the government may renege on the “deal”.
The clarification is at least as bad as the proposals!!!
Click here for the Full Document: Education Sector Clarification