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(en) Organise, Ireland - Teachers Continue Industrial Action

From Al S <klasbatalemo@yahoo.ie>
Date Fri, 14 May 2004 11:57:24 +0200 (CEST)

A - I N F O S N E W S S E R V I C E
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Since the beginning of the year the four main
teachers' unions in the north of Ireland, the National
Association of Schoolmasters and Union of Women
Teachers (NASUWT), the Irish National Teachers
Organisation (INTO), the Ulster Teachers Union (UTU)
and the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL)
have been involved in a pay dispute after the refusal
of government and employers to backdate performance
related pay (involving an increase of £1,000 a year)
to September 2002 as has been done in England and
Wales. The unions described the refusal as a breach of
faith and a departure from the longstanding policy of
pay parity. Industrial action by my union, the INTO,
has taken the form of non-participation in directed
time and Baker day activities and the boycotting of
e-learning strategies and Statutory Assessment
arrangements at Key stages 1, 2 and 3.

However, the inevitable problem of having a workforce
divided into several unions had already surfaced with
different directives being sent to different teachers
in different unions. NASUWT members in my school have
been asked not to “undertake any duties which other
union members have stopped – this would undermine the
action” (NASUWT website). All well and good. But why
have the teachers’ unions failed to agree a common
strategy on industrial action? INTO teachers refusing
to cover absences of NASUWT teachers, and vice versa,
only fuels divisions amongst staff. As a consequence
the onus has been put on teachers to interpret vague
directives and implement them almost as a matter of
personal whim! INTO teachers must decide, for example,
whether to participate in Open Night activities, and
as some will and others won’t the chance of increasing
friction amongst staff will increase. Add to this the
common practise of holding separate union meetings
(even at times of increased struggle) and we must ask
ourselves how well we are being served by our unions.
As yet of course there has no even been a hint of a
walk-out. On the contrary, the four unions have agreed
to consider conciliation with the Labour Relations
Agency while the “Department of Education and
employing authorities have been contacted so that
urgent meetings can be organised to agree terms of
reference for the conciliation and hopefully an end to
the dispute” (INTO website). An end to the dispute
yes. But on whose terms?



>From the pages of Working Class Resistance, bulletin
of Organise!, now available at our website:


To distribute in your area, contact Organise! at:


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