Before a protest outside Dáil Éireann on the afternoon that the Financial Measures in the Public Interest Bill (FEMPI) 2015 approached finalisation, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) outlined its intention to campaign vigorously on key education issues ahead of the general election.
Commencing with Institute of Technology lecturers next week, TUI members will be balloted on a campaign of industrial action to seek a resolution of these issues.
Speaking this afternoon, TUI President Gerry Quinn said:
‘We believe that the FEMPI Bill is draconian and punitive and that it seeks to force unions into the Lansdowne Road Agreement (LRA). The continued reference to ‘Financial Emergency’ flies in the face of the government’s narrative of economic recovery. TUI members voted overwhelmingly not to accept the LRA in October by a margin of 92%, and this was due in large measure to the fact that the agreement was oblivious to a number of issues of grave concern within the education system.’
‘TUI represents teachers and lecturers in second level schools, colleges and centres of further and adult education and institutes of technology. On a daily basis, they see first-hand the damage that an era of austerity cuts continue to wreak on the education system and the students it serves.’
‘Beginning with Institute of Technology lecturers next week, TUI members will be balloted on whether they agree to engage in a campaign of industrial action, up to and including strike action, in order to secure a fair and sustainable resolution of these issues.’
‘In addition, there is no commitment to have the remaining pension cuts restored for retired teachers and lecturers.’
‘The union will also organise a vigorous lobbying campaign of candidates across the political spectrum ahead of the general election. We will be reminding representatives that education is the engine of our economy and an inspiration for our creativity, culture and citizenship. Equality in society is not possible if our education system is not equitable.’
Third Level issues of concern
- The chronic underfunding of the Institutes of Technology (35% cut - €190m – between 2008 and 2015)
- The critically low staffing levels at a time of a steep and ongoing increase in student numbers and the consequential unacceptable workload imposition on lecturers (20% rise in student numbers/10% fall in lecturer numbers – between 2008 and 2015)
- The precarious employment status, income poverty and associated exploitation of many academic staff
- The resulting, detrimental effect on the quality of service to students (larger class sizes, less access to laboratories, tutorials, student support etc)
Second Level/Further Education issues of concern
- The precarious employment status, income poverty and exploitation of many staff (half of second level teachers under 35 are in insecure employment/colleagues paid different rates for the same work)
- The collapse of the student support and middle management systems in schools (eg guidance counselling provision is still considerably less than it was before 2012/many students have no year head)
- Increased bureaucratisation of work (88% of teachers listed administrative duties as having increased as a proportion of workload over the last five years in a TUI survey finding, March 2015) and
- The resulting detrimental effect on the quality of service to students.