Inside the INTO conference
2 July 2006
We are republishing this contribution by
Gregor Kerr, originally posted on the indymedia website
'Towards 2016' - another 'partnership' con
by Gregor Kerr - INTO - Dublin City North Branch, WSM - 1st May Branch – personal capacity
This is the text of a leaflet which has been drawn up by members of the Irish National Teachers Organisation who are opposed to the new pay deal as presented to us for ratification.
A version of this leaflet was distributed to approx 500 INTO delegates from all over the country who attended a 'Consultative Conference' on Whole School Evaluation last weekend.
Thanks to the generosity of a number of union members a copy of it has also been posted out to most schools in the Dublin area and some around the country.
Unfortunately we don't have the €1500 it would cost to send the leaflet to all 3,000 or so primary schools in Ireland. This is not a problem that will face those who favour the deal - the union leadership.
They have no problem spending members' money to give the 'pro' side of the argument.
If you are a member of the INTO please print off this leaflet and distribute it to your work colleagues. If you would like to contribute financially to sending out the leaflet contact me at the Email address shown.
If you're not in the INTO, the information
in the leaflet might be of benefit to you in your own union. Please feel
free to use it as you will.
Sustaining Progress Mark
This year’s INTO Conference in Killarney
passed a motion which included: “Congress: (a) demands a substantial rise
in salary to compensate for increases in the cost of living and to ensure
that teachers receive their fair share of the increased wealth in an expanding
economy;……….(c) further demands that no productivity concessions be attached
to the payment of the increase”
On pay, the deal offers a 10% increase over a 27-month period (1st July ’06 – 1st September ’08). This is to be paid in 4 amounts -3% on 1/12/06; 2% on 1/6/07; 2.5% on 1/3/08; 2.5% on 1/9/08. With inflation moving towards an annual rate of 5%, (expected by most financial commentators) the pay adjustment offered will not even compensate us for price increases over the lifespan of the deal if we also factor in the price hikes prompted by the release of SSIA funds into the economy. Even more worryingly, the trend in interest rates is also upward. The European Central Bank recently increased interest rates by 0.25%, the 3rd increase in the past twelve months. It’s very worrying, especially for young teachers who are tied into huge mortgages, and this pay deal will do nothing to ease those worries.
It is the productivity concessions that are tied into this deal that should worry us most, however. The first – and possibly most worrying – of these is the references to Performance Management. ‘Performance management’ is simply the newest buzzword for ‘Performance Related Pay.’ All across the public sector the Department of Finance wants to impose ‘targets’ and link pay to the attainment of these targets. Our negotiators will try to sell us this deal by telling us that they have protected us from the worst forms of ‘Performance Management’. It is true that it seems we are unlikely to be exposed to the horrors of individual assessment as has been imposed on large sections of the civil service. But to believe that Performance Management can ever be benign or ‘teacher-friendly’ is naïve in the extreme. True the concessions on ‘Evaluation’ will probably reflect what we do already, and refer to group evaluation rather than individual evaluation. BUT who can put their hands on their hearts and tell us that it will not lead to increased work for principals and post-holders. And – more importantly – this is simply the thin end of the wedge. Once a concession is made, what will the powers-that-be in the DES and the Department of Finance want next?
Reviews and outcomes
On the issue of ‘Underperforming Teachers’, the deal apparently commits us to a review of Section 24.3 of the Education Act and to agree a new system for dealing with the issue of ‘underperforming teachers’. Worryingly, however, we are committed to being bound by the outcome of this review. There is a commitment that new arrangements will be in place by the school year 07/08. Have we learnt nothing from previous deals where we agreed to enter discussions on parent/teacher meetings and staff meetings – discussions the results of which we had already agreed to accept before they had even begun. What if we don’t like the ‘new arrangements’, which come out of the talks? On previous experience, we can simply expect to be told that we have no choice but to accept.
Similarly, the deal commits to a review of the Panel arrangements, the objective of the DES being to come up with a ‘more flexible redeployment panel’. Maybe this will work in our favour (unlikely), maybe it won’t (much more likely) but the important point is that again we will have agreed to the outcome before the ‘review’ even takes place.
There is also a commitment to enter discussions to revise the existing promotion procedures. Yet again the outcome of these discussions is pre-determined in that the revised arrangements will be formulated and implemented by 2008. Does anyone know the DES agenda in these discussions? – most likely they will want to do away with seniority as one of the criteria for appointment to posts of responsibility. Whatever the agenda we’re again going to find ourselves bound by the results of the discussions before they even begin.
Want a longer school year??
On In-Service, we are all aware that the agenda of the DES has been to move all in-service outside the current school year – in other words to lengthen the school year. The INTO position in negotiations has been that in-service should remain voluntary and be paid for. This is far from a satisfactory position as to what extent can a young teacher hoping to be appointed to a post treat in-service as ‘voluntary’? But at any rate the DES now seem to be insisting that ongoing in-service and professional development is a ‘requirement’ for teachers.
The deal, it seems, commits us to ongoing discussions in relation to resolving this issue. We all know of course that the way that the DES see the issue being ‘resolved’ is by the imposition of their will. While we are told that nothing is agreed on this issue, should we be foolish enough to believe that we won’t in 2 years time find ourselves being told ‘Ah sure, you agreed to that already.’? Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me…
Overall this deal represents yet another ‘pig-in-a-poke’. We’re asked to commit ourselves to a whole range of ongoing change. That in itself is bad enough as we should be entitled to this money anyway simply to protect our wages against rises in the cost of living. But, worse than that, we are being asked to commit to the outcome of several ‘reviews’ of key working conditions. We can be sure that the DES don’t want to ‘review’ these in order to improve our working conditions. Yet we are effectively conceding in advance the outcome of these ‘reviews’. We will have absolutely no bargaining power if the review decides that all-in-service should take place in the first week of July, for example.
The deal is yet to be published in full,
and we can expect that once more a vote will be taken in a hurried manner
without time for a proper debate. If union democracy is to mean anything,
the deal should be presented with a resounding call for rejection from
the CEC. The motion quoted above, as passed at Annual Congress represents
union policy. If the CEC are to obey the mandate they have been given,
and are to respect union democracy it is imperative that they reject this
Newsflash!! The TUI exec. have rejected
this deal arguing it cedes extensive productivity for bare cost of living
increases which are due to the workforce and citizens by entitlement.