INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION & SCIENCE
& DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE
- AND -
ASSOCIATION OF SECONDARY TEACHERS IN IRELAND (ASTI)
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Pay claim.
2. ASTI were not party to the negotiations or subsequent agreement to the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness(PPF), consequent on its withdrawal in January, 2000 from the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.
The Union is seeking a 30% pay increase in salary and allowances for its members. It claims that the PCW concluded in 1997. Some groups continued to negotiate up until 1999 and by doing so succeeded in getting very substantial increases over and above those available. Those who concluded their agreements within the framework of the PCW and within its terms were advised that they were the only terms available at the time.
However, the Gardai were given three separate deals which culminated in an overall pay increase of the order of 15% to 16%. In the case of nurses, their overall package was worth approximately 26% of their pay bill. The early settlers award of 3% from 1st October, 2000 was completely inadequate to address the anomaly between the awards to "early" and "late" settlers.
ASTI did not accept that the basic terms of the PPF plus the "benchmarking" exercise were sufficient to meet the Union's aspirations.
The Union's claim is for:
- (i) compensation for increases in the cost of living and provision of a means for teachers to share in the benefits of economic prosperity;
(ii) recognition in the pay levels of teachers of their contribution to the development of the second level education service and their productivity and flexibility over the past decade;
Both sides agreed to refer the matter to arbitration in accordance with the terms of the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme for Teachers. The Arbitration Board recommended that the claim be settled within the framework of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness (PPF). The recommendation was accepted by management but rejected by the Union. ASTI then served notice of industrial action in support of its claim.
Following the Union's rejection of the Arbitration Board's recommendation a facilitator was appointed to find a process under which the Union's claim could be considered. The facilitator proposed that the parties should request the Labour Court "to consider both the Union's claim in respect of teachers' pay and the position of the Departments in relation to the PPF and Public Service pay policy and to make recommendations to the parties for the resolution of the dispute".
The Labour Court investigated the dispute on the 9th February, 2001. The parties made comprehensive written and oral submissions to the Court.
3. 1. The Union does not accept that the PPF, including the benchmarking process, can adequately reward its members.
2. The substantial contribution of the modernised, flexible and responsive education service, provided by teachers, to continued economic growth and development, should be recognised by a substantial increase in pay levels.
3. The flexibility and innovation shown by second level teachers in transforming the second level education system is incontrovertible evidence of increases in productivity which justify a significant pay increase.
4. Teachers deserve appropriate compensation for increases in the cost of living and deserve to share in the benefits of economic growth and prosperity to which they have made a significant contribution.
5. The Economic, Social and Research Institute (ESRI) states that education is one of the primary factors driving economic growth. A vibrant, enthusiastic, committed, highly qualified and well remunerated teaching profession is central to the well-being of the education service.
6. Over the past two decades the government resisted adjustment of teachers' pay to address the gap between their pay and rates paid to other public and private sector professions because of the poor state of the national finances.
7. The average annual pay increase provided for under P2000 and the PPF for the year 2000 came to a little more than 2%. In a year when the average rate of inflation was 5.6%, that resulted in a net reduction in real pay for teachers for that year.
8. A comparative analysis by Deloitte & Touche demonstrates that earnings of teachers are significantly behind those in comparable graduate employment in the public and private sectors.
4. 1. The Union's 30% claim was processed through the agreed procedures for processing such claims including independent arbitration.
2. The recommendation of the Arbitration Board has been implemented and a payment has already been made with effect from 1st October, 2000.
3. There has been a high level of change in the educational system but this has also occurred in other areas of the public sector. Teachers have been treated on a par with other public sector workers.
4. Teachers have benefited from pay awards under national agreements over the past ten years and have had the benefit of an arbitration award in 1991; a special award under the Programme for Competitiveness and Work; and a 2% pay increase under the provisions of Partnership 2000.
5. Since 1994/1995 the number of teachers in secondary, community and comprehensive schools has increased, while the number of students has decreased. This trend is likely to continue.
6. The quality of the educational service is the result of a number of factors, including the contribution of teachers. However, other matters have also contributed to such quality, such as the level of Government investment in the educational system.
7. The concerns and aspirations of ASTI in relation to past productivity and present comparability with other graduate employments in the private sector can be adequately addressed through the benchmarking process as agreed under the PPF.
8. To concede the ASTI claim would undermine the PPF and, in turn, the government budgetary strategy.
The Court has been requested to consider both the Union's claim in respect of teachers' pay and the position of the Departments in relation to the PPF and Public Service pay policy
and to make recommendations to the parties for resolution of this dispute.
The Unionhas identified its claim under the 3 headings below, backing up
each with substantive arguments.
(ii) Recognition in the pay levels of teachers for their contribution to the development of the second level education service and their productivity and flexibility over the past decade - (para 2,3 page 2) claim 8%-12%.
(iii) Recognition that by comparison with other graduate entry employments teachers’ pay is depressed and requires significant upward adjustment - (para 8 page 3) claim 15%-20%.
- Included in the arguments made bythe Unionwere the following:
-As educators they are the bedrock of economic success.
-The demand for third level education has expanded resulting in added pressure on teachers to raise education standards.
-Society has become more competitive, placing day-to-day challenges on teachers.
-There is a loss of respect today in classrooms.
-There are more complex administrative and disciplinary structures.
-Teachers are more accountable in their role as educators.
-There has been significant change in the teaching role.
-Graduates are not attracted to the profession.
-Graduates can increase their earnings considerably in other professions.
- Teachers' working hours.
- In terms of the ability to progress a pay claim, ASTI argued that the National pay agreements have not, and will not, allow for consideration of their claim based on past and future productivity, and cannot produce the magnitude of increase that is merited.
The Departments' arguments included :
-The aspirations of ASTI members are no different in many respects from those of other groups of public service employees, which were addressed in the PPF negotiations.
-There is no justification for dealing with ASTI members on a more favourable basis than has been agreed for the general body of public servants.
-There is an independent forum available to process the ASTI claim relating to comparisons.
-This claim for 30% was processed through the agreed procedures for processing such claims including independent arbitration.
-Arguments advanced by ASTI could equally be advanced by other public servants.
-To concede the ASTI claim would undermine the PPF and, in turn, the government budgetary strategy.
The Court, after examining in detail all of the information presented, is satisfied that the teachers have a sustainable case in relation to their claim that they have fallen behind other professions in recent years.
The Court also accepts that the role of teaching, and indeed education generally, has changed dramatically in recent years, resulting in considerable added pressure on teachers. These pressures arise as a result of changes in society in relation to the family unit, the behaviour of students, increased legislation, and an increase in responsibility.
The Court accepts that there is justification for the feeling of teachers that they have a strong case for an increase in salary. However the basis on which this claim is being pursued is exclusive of other groups (including some teachers) across the Civil Service, Health, Education and Local Authority Sectors who are pursuing equally arguable claims through benchmarking.
The Court cannot accept the teachers' arguments that they are unique in that the mechanism being used by all the other groups, to measure the value of jobs and responsibilities, cannot deal with their particular case. This is particularly difficult to accept when the other teacher unions and others within the educational system have accepted this process as a means of addressing their not insignificant claims.
In relation to the claim for an increase based on cost of living, flexibility, and for a share of the financial gains arising from our economic success, the Court believes that these issues have been addressed in the national agreements by pay increases, tax concessions and, in the case of teachers, by a number of special awards over the years. It is worth noting that the national agreements, while improving conditions for employees, have also had at their core a drive to increase employment, something they have been extremely successful in achieving.
The arguments made by the teachers in relation to their contribution to the success of the economy can be made by many other groups, including other teaching groups. The Court cannot accept that this group of teachers is significantly different or has a significantly stronger case than the other groups. The impact of our modern society has been widespread in all areas of the working environment.
In relation to the claim for comparisons with other groups, and particularly in relation to the arguments on similar graduate entry employments, the Court is surprised that ASTI is not prepared to make these arguments in a wider forum. The Court believes that the case they make is a very strong one and, therefore, they should have every confidence in presenting it to an appropriate body. It is worth noting that in many cases where the Court is asked to adjudicate on gradings or pay for particular jobs, it has appointed a third party to look at the detail and examine the case for an increase in pay.
If no mechanism existed for the teachers to have their case examined and their claims for a pay increase to be considered, then there might be some justification for their decision to take an independent course to resolve their claim. However, the Court believes that there is a mechanism in place to enable them to progress their claim.
THE COURT RECOMMENDS AS FOLLOWS:
The Union claim is for:
(i) compensation for increases in the cost of living and provision of a means for teachers to share in the benefits of economic prosperity;
(ii) recognition in the pay levels of teachers for their contribution to the development of the second level education service and their productivity and flexibility over the past decade;
(iii) recognition that, by comparison with other graduate entry employment groups, teachers' pay is depressed and requires significant upward adjustment.
The Court does not support the Union's claims in (i) and (ii) above for the reasons already outlined in its conclusions (page 5). However the Court, having considered in detail the range of statistics and the management consultant's report supplied, upholds the Union claim in (iii) above, that they have fallen behind comparable groups in the public and private sectors.
The Court finds that the Union has a sustainable case for a pay increase and that a process exists for dealing with such claims. The Court recommends this claim be progressed through this process-the Benchmarking exercise.
The Court is concerned that the concept and the detail of the Benchmarking arrangements were not available to the A.S.T.I. when they rejected Benchmarking as a means of dealing with their claim. They were not party to any explanatory meetings or negotiations on the process of Benchmarking.
During the period that the ASTI have remained outside of the Benchmarking process, the situation has changed in a number of respects. It has now become clear that -
- The Benchmarking body will not be recommending on the introduction of performance related pay.
- It is a totally independent body presided over by a High Court Judge.
- It has a substantial budget and secretariat.
- It also has a major independent research element.
- It will be able to evaluate each case on its merits and on the basis of its research findings.
However the most significant changes have been the date of publication of the report and the date of any increase arising from its implementation.
Under the P.P.F., the Benchmarking Body was asked to produce its report by the end of 2002, without any commitment of a payment from that date. However, the situation now is that the report will be issued by June 2002, with a definite commitment that 25% of any increase recommended will be implemented from 1st December 2001.
The Court believes that the process of Benchmarking is a comprehensive method of evaluating relativities as between different groups of professional occupations.
The Court is satisfied, given the status of the members of the Benchmarking Body, together with the relevant backing resources to assess, research, and quantify claims,that Benchmarking can produce results that will establish relative values.
While ASTI has taken a decision not to participate in the Benchmarking Exercise, there was no substantive analysis or arguments made to the Court to justify such a stance.
The Departments have indicated that the work of the Benchmarking Body will be similar to the exercise carried out by the Review Body on Higher Remuneration in the Public Service. The Departments have also indicated that claims for past productivity and increases based on comparisons with other graduate employment in public and private sector groups will be addressed in the Benchmarking exercise.
Given the clarifications and changes, the Court would request ASTI to reconsider its stance on Benchmarking.
It is clear that, in the context of the changed and still rapidly changing educational environment, there is a need for a fundamental examination and review of the role and function of teachers in their various posts. Given the common operating environment, the review would encompass both primary and second level education.
The Court recommends that an expert review of education be undertaken involving all of the partners in education and should cover a wide range of issues including:
Legal and management structures
- the contractual arrangements for delivery of education
-development of internal management structures
-professional development and
-ongoing training needs;
-in the education system and
-in the wider community context;
Teacher training and accreditation
-training before entry
-ongoing, post-entry or on the job training and
-acquisition of further qualifications;
-psychological, social and health services.
The Court recommends that a review body be set up to conduct a comprehensive review of all the non-pay aspects of education. Terms of reference to be agreed by the relevant partners in education and the Review Body to be in place by 1st June 2001.
The report on this review of the wider aspects of education to be forwarded to the Minister for Education and Science within a timetable to be determined by the participants.
The Union has made a strong case for a payment upfront as a means of settling this dispute, in recognition of the intensity and longevity of the dispute.
During the hearing it was clarified that ASTI members have benefited from significant pay increases as result of being paid the various stages of the PPF. The Court was unable to get a satisfactory explanation as to why these payments were being made or accepted given that ASTI members are outside the PPF.
Currently these payments stand at 8½%and will amount to 16% by 1st December 2001. The Court is of the view that these payments should be viewed as upfront payments given that ASTI are not party to the PPF.
During this dispute a number of issues requiring clarification have surfaced relating to the role of teachers, including a degree of uncertainty about the actual teacher contract, particularly in relation to the formal and informal aspects of contracts.
This was particularly highlighted by the issues that arose in the areas of supervision and substitution.
The point has been made to the Court that the atmosphere surrounding this case has been greatly affected by the anger felt by teachers in relation to the days stopped when they believe they were available for work.
The Court understands that there were 5 "days of action" and that 3 days' salary was deducted but subsequently repaid without prejudice. This issue has still to be resolved.
While accepting that this matter has wider implications in relation to the contract of employment, and may even become a legal matter, the Court recommends that the 5 days not be stopped, on acceptance of this recommendation. This action to be without prejudice, and to be accepted as a gesture of goodwill.
Finally, the Court in considering this case has been conscious of the emotions aroused by the effects of this dispute on a wide range of people and the national consequences of failure to resolve the dispute.This dispute has the potential to divide the community, the teaching profession, and to do irreparable damage to the students taking state examinations this year. The effects on the educational process will last for many years and have an enormous impact on the 350,000 students in schools.
While the Court, in considering cases before it, must be conscious of the wider national interest, it has in considering this case endeavoured to provide a basis for the parties to resolve the dispute.
The Court is satisfied that ASTI have a case for an increase in salary and that the Benchmarking exercise is capable of addressing this claim. In addition this recommendation allows for detailed analysis of the non pay-issues through the proposed forum.
The Court would earnestly entreat the parties to give careful consideration to the full details contained in this recommendation.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
9th March, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.