The Taoiseach, the Minister for Education and Skills and the Government have broken their agreement with the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland.
They have locked out teachers and locked out 250,000 students. There is only one industrial relations agreement between the Department of Education and Skills and the ASTI and that is the Haddington Road agreement, freely entered into by the Department of Education and teachers. Except where that agreement explicitly states otherwise, the agreement expired last 30 June. Crucially, a key area where the agreement extends into the future is that of supervision and substitution and how these are to be paid for. The agreement states that:
A gross additional payment equivalent to the 2011 lower payment rate paid for supervision and substitution will be included in the common basic scale for teachers. This will be included in two moieties with half included in the school year 2016/17 and the second half included in the school year 2017/18.
Teachers turned up for work to teach but the Taoiseach and his Minister broke their agreement by refusing to pay for substitution and supervision. They closed schools, locked out teachers and locked out students rather than honouring an agreement that they freely entered into. They are prepared to pay parents, citizens and members of another union in the same school but they are not prepared to honour the agreement they freely made with the ASTI.
Clearly this is not a question of money. It is an attempt to coerce and bully a union into a new agreement and Mussolini, Franco and their Irish blueshirt ally, General O’Duffy, would be proud of the Taoiseach and his Government today. His claim that the ASTI has unilaterally withdrawn from Croke Park hours is completely false. The Haddington Road agreement makes no provision for the maintenance of these hours beyond 30 June and, as the Taoiseach well knows, the majority of teachers do additional hours far in excess of Croke Park on an ongoing basis to support and develop students in music, arts, drama, sports, transitional year projects, etc. In any event the Croke Park hours have not been worked for months and this has not necessitated the closure of schools.
The Taoiseach and his Government are breaking the Haddington Road agreement. They are locking out teachers and using students as pawns to bully the ASTI into an agreement. Will the Taoiseach stop breaking the Haddington Road agreement, pay for supervision and substitution and allow our students and children back to school? Will he and his Government stop locking out teachers and holding students as hostages to force a trade union into an agreement to which it is not party and which union members have rejected? The Taoiseach should leave William Martin Murphy, the infamous Dublin employer who locked out workers in 1913, in his grave. He can stop the lock-out today to allow teachers and students back to work and he should allow the right to free trade unions in this country.
In the very short time available to me, I will concentrate on primary education. Young people get one chance at primary education. They can re-sit their leaving certificate and do secondary education as part of a second chance programme or as a mature student. Third level is similar but they get only one chance at primary education. That is why it is vitally important that students get a good grounding and support at primary level. Primary education is the basis for all further learning and education. Every euro invested in primary education is invested in students and their future and will stand to them through the rest of their lives. Ensuring that every student is supported to reach his or her potential in primary school has lifelong benefits for employment and health prospects. Unfortunately, budget 2017 has failed primary education. There was no improvement in class sizes.
There is an average number of 25 pupils in our classes, as opposed to the EU average of 20. We have the second most overcrowded classrooms in Europe. Indeed, 100,000 of our children are being taught in classes with more than 30 students. Those students, in particular, have been abandoned by this Government. I remind the Minister that, despite the commitment in the programme for Government, the budget has failed to change class sizes for the better. All research shows that smaller classes work well for children and that no class should have more than 20 students.
Time and again, we are told that we have free education. The reality, of course, is very different. The failure to increase the daily funding for primary schools will leave them dependent on voluntary fundraising and parents’ contributions. The Government’s funding of 92 cent per pupil per day does not cover the basic running costs and puts huge stress on parents and principals, with them having to run quizzes, cake sales, church gate collections and race nights. This budget should have restored the pre-cut rate of €200 for capitation at the very least. That would have been a first step.
The budget does not deal with the restoration of lost posts, increased release time for teaching principals or parity of pay. Special needs children also do not appear to have been a priority in the budget. They still wait far too long for assessments. In fact, the Society of St. Vincent de Paul has had to pay for these assessments on numerous occasions. The failure to fund and support primary schools properly is very short-sighted and must be reversed immediately.
Education is a fundamental human right. The reduction of provision for education at all levels by the current and previous governments is an attack on that right.
Young children need a good start in education in order to benefit fully at further and higher levels. That is why I strongly support the demands of the Irish National Teachers Organisation.
Class size is a huge issue. The current shocking ratio of 27 pupils to 1 teacher is only an average. Many pupils are taught in cases above 27. The ratio must be reduced to 20 to 1 as quickly as possible but by no later than Sept 1, 2018
Cuts to funding of Disadvantaged (Deis Schools) must be restored
Capitation grants to primary and secondary schools, further education and Youthreach must be increased to restore funding and to relieve pressures on hard pressed parents for voluntary contributions.
The ban on filling of assistant principal posts has placed huge burdens of overwork on colleagues such as principals and classroom teachers. This ban must be removed.
The Restoration of dedicated Guidance Teacher posts, as is being sought by ASTI and TUI is generally necessary, but is particularly needed by students from educationally deprived back rounds.
Ruairi Quinn, Labour broke his promise to abolish college fees. This must now be done to give all our students a fair chance of achieving third level qualifications at degree and postgraduate level.
Our third level Institute here in Co Tipperary, LIT-Tiobrad Árann, is doing vital work and making a vital contribution to our culture and to our economy. But the funding of third level institutes has been slashed by 30% while student numbers have increased by 10%. These damaging cuts by the current and previous governments must be restored urgently.
In the most recent budget the Fine Gael-Labour government gave 125 million Euro in tax relief to the top 5% on an average 186,000 Euro per year each. These priorities must be reversed
Seamus Healy TD
I put forward this notice of motion:
“That Tipperary County Council requests the Government to abolish the student services charge for apprentices which had been implemented on apprentices since January 2014. The imposition of the student service charge of up to €1,433.00 is nothing more than a tax on training.”
€1,433.00 is nothing more than a tax on training. As a council we should use our influence to have this inequitable tax abolished.
These charges are both unreasonable and inequitable for the following reasons:
The charges were imposed by Government in the last budget and implemented from the 01 January 2014 with the object of raising €1.6 million in revenue to the State.
The charge depending on the duration of the training period in an institute of technology can vary from €833.00 to €1,433.00.
This tax on training is referred to as a standard service charge, this despite the fact that student services are not available to, or availed of by apprentices.
Apprentices are employees of companies, not students, and pay income tax and PRSI along with many other taxes and charges already.
Apprentices are amongst the lowest paid workers in the Republic of Ireland and in the first years of employment are paid less than the minimum wage.
No other country in Europe imposes such a charge on apprentices.
There is no age restriction entering apprenticeship and many apprentices in modern Ireland carry the responsibility of a family rent or mortgage costs.
The Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development recently assessed the Government Action Plan for Jobs and particularly warned that more must be done to tackle youth unemployment. All of the Governments actions to date in this area flies in the face of such experts.
I asked that Tipperary County Council request the Government to ensure that the imposition of student services charges on apprentices is rescinded and that this motion be circulated to all councils.
This motion was approved by the council and was referred to the Minister for Education and Skills, Ms Jan O’Sullivan for her consideration and reply.
I will keep you informed as to progress.
Deputy Seamus Healy today welcomed the announcement of an additional €70m for school improvements;
The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D., has today announced the allocation of almost €70 million for school improvements.
Over €28 million is being made available as a once-off payment to primary schools as part of the Minor Works Grant scheme. Another €40 million will be allocated under the Summer Works Scheme 2014 which is being re-introduced to fund the improvement and upgrading of existing school buildings.
The Minor Works Grant will be paid to primary schools in the coming weeks and will enable schools to undertake small scale repair works without the need to interact with the Department.
“I know that the immediate payment of this grant in 2013 will be welcomed by school communities and management bodies as a valuable contribution to the costs of maintaining school infrastructure,” said Minister Quinn.
Funding from the Summer Works Scheme will allow schools to carry out small and medium scale building works such as gas, electrical and mechanical works, roof and window upgrades, structural improvements; works that will improve and upgrade existing school buildings.
It is up to schools to identify the most urgently required projects to be funded from the Summer Works Scheme. Each school can apply for one small scale project and will be responsible for the completion of those works.
“Despite the funding constraints on my Department’s capital budget I am pleased to re-introduce the summer works scheme in 2014. This funding package is being made as part of this Government’s continued commitment to improve facilities in schools throughout the country. These works will be carried out in schools over the summer months, when the pupils are on holidays, so the disruption to schooling will be kept to a minimum,” the Minister said. “This scheme will not only improve the learning environment for thousands of students, but the projects will also stimulate economic activity by supporting 2,400 direct and 480 indirect much needed construction jobs in the local economy.”
Schools can apply for these grants online using the Esinet portal. A Freephone service is also available to assist schools with queries regarding the Summer Works Scheme. It can be contacted at 1800 200 955 daily from 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 4.30pm from 7th November to 10th December 2013.
Full details on the Summer Works Scheme are available at Summer Works Scheme 2014 Click Here For More Infomation