On Wednesday, 27th February, the TUI executive met to consider the LRC proposals on a ‘Draft Public Service Agreement’. The executive decided to put the proposals to a ballot of TUI members and to call for members emphatically to reject the proposals.
Following consideration of the LRC document, the executive concluded:
- The Government’s approach is fundamentally wrong and constitutes a slavish adherence to austerity policies that have clearly failed. An increasing set of national and international research demonstrates the failure of this approach. The proposals as set down will have a very significant deflationary effect and will further damage our domestic economy by taking more money out of people’s pockets.
- TUI believes - in common with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions – that any adjustment to the public finances should be done through taxation in the first instance. These proposals unfairly target the public sector and represent a missed opportunity to ensure fairness across the economy. TUI believes the wealthy in society have the means and the moral obligation to contribute through taxation, considerably more to national recovery and the government should ensure they contribute the most.
- There has been a breach of trust due to the Government reneging on its commitment to the first Public Service Agreement. Therefore, any assurances contained in the new proposals raise significant issues that relate to the credibility of Government and the durability of any assurances made. These proposals do not contain a firm commitment by the Government to restore pay cuts after three years. The proposals are extremely vague in this regard. The absence of clarity makes the pay cuts potentially far more long lived than the duration of the agreement.
- At second level, the effect of the elimination of Supervision and Substitution (S&S) in percentage terms impacts disproportionately on teachers on lower incomes, as S&S makes up a greater proportion of their income. The severity of this cut is further magnified for pro-rata teachers who, up to now, may have opted in for more than their pro-rata S&S hours.
- At third level, the calculation of an additional 78 hours per year is wholly arbitrary. It is not informed by any understanding of how higher education institutions are organised or how programmes are delivered. The proposed elimination of examination payments is ill-conceived. This will impact very seriously on those lecturers with heavy assessment loads. They will lose income disproportionately and continue to have a burdensome exam/assessment related workload. This proposal fails the test of fairness.
- TUI is committed to the restoration of the proper pay rates for new entrants. Attempts to address the pay rates for new entrants do not go far enough. Contrary to some media speculation, equalisation of pay scales with the pre-2011 scales is not proposed.
- Furthermore, the issue of casualisation has been addressed only to a very limited degree. A panel, while welcome, still presupposes that new entrants to teaching and lecturing will be appointed to fixed term positions and spend several years in fixed term, part-time, insecure employment. To deal with casualisation, conversion to permanency of existing fixed term teachers/lecturers is required, as is the restoration of a regime of initial appointment in a permanent wholetime capacity.
- The pay cut provisions included in the document are both complex and confusing and their operation will give rise to a sequence of anomalies and significant unfairness. No clarity has been provided in regard to this hugely important issu
- Extensive additional productivity has been given by teachers and lecturers under the existing Public Service Agreement. An additional 900,000 hours annually are being provided by second-level teachers and teaching hours delivered by Institute of Technology lecturers have increased by over 10% in circumstances of staffing cuts and increases in student numbers. This increased productivity is in addition to the pension levy and pay cuts which have reduced the take-home pay of serving teachers and lecturers by as much as 20%.
Ballot papers were issued on Thursday, 7th March to be returned by 5pm on Tuesday, 26th March.