Perhaps one of the major myths since the crash of the economy (2008 onwards) has been the myth of the "powerful" public sector unions usually with Croke Park thrown in for good measure by journalists, commentators and posters who haven't a clue what they're talking about.
This thread has been setup to discuss one particular public profession (teaching) and to examine the role played by their main unions - the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO), the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) and the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) - in doing what they're paid to do and that is to protect the pay, employment and working conditions of their members.
Since 2008-09 some of the issues affecting teaching include the following:
1 - April 2009 - The public sector pension levy: Brian Lenihan introduces the public sector pension levy which cuts the net pay of all public sector workers by an average of 7.5%. Initially this levy and idea was proposed by the unions themselves. This levy is likely to remain a permanent fixture in the future unlike the recent 0.6% levy on those with private pensions which is to be scrapped after only a year in existence. The government then raided the pension fund to ail out the banks meaning that money paid by public servants into their pensions is not being setup into a separate fund.
2 - December 2009 - FF and Brian Lenihan impose further separate pay cuts of between 5 and 10% on all public sector workers. Little opposition comes from the unions.
3 - The Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 - Otherwise known as "the Croke Park Agreement" this agreement has significantly worsened the conditions of employment of all public sector workers in exchange for a guarantee that public sector workers would not be targeted separately from the workforce for further cuts again. In teaching, at second level, this had led to over one million extra teaching hours across the country (750 schools) per year.
4 - Increases in the pupil-teacher ratio - Every budget since 2008 has seen various rises in the pupil teacher ratio at both primary and secondary level meaning job losses into the thousands for non permanent teachers. This continues to occur despite Croke Park. Union opposition has been next to nothing despite rising class sizes.
5 - Redeployments - Ongoing under Croke Park. When teachers are redeployed someone else loses their job. The unions, led by the elder permanent teachers, have offered no opposition.
6 - The public sector recruitment embargo - This embargo has effectively led to the scenario whereby public sector workers cannot be promoted except in exceptional circumstances (e.g. A principal appointed). This has led to teachers, mainly junior teachers, being put under considerable pressure to take on jobs in schools for free. The unions have done nothing.
7 - Allowances no longer paid to new teachers - Since February 2011 new teachers no longer are paid any allowances. Tis does to extend to principals appointed who have had their allowances protected. The unions did nothing except to issue statements. New teachers, if appointed, would now have a take home pay of around €20,000 if full time.
8 - Sick Leave Entitlements - Significantly reduced under the present LABOUR government to the point where teachers are allowed 7 sick days over a two year period. No opposition from the unions occurred.
9 - Maternity Leave Entitlements reduced - recently announced in the 2013 budget with no opposition from the unions.
10 - The abolition of the Junior Cert - Announced as some sort of far reaching reform of the education system . . It is nothing of the sort. The Junior Cert is to be abolished over the years 2014-20 with teachers required to do the work the State Examinations Commission once did. A cost saving measure designed to get teachers to do more for less. The teaching unions (or parents representatives) were not consulted. The response of the ASTI was to issue a survey.
11 - The Teaching Council - A scam of a QUANGO where lunacy extends to denying citizens with Engineering degrees the right to be recognised as a Mathematics teacher. Set up by a Bertie government for the union leaderships it is entirely funded by teachers to the amount of €90 per year. Populated by the union leaders the expenses, free dinners and lunches have flowed ever since.
These are just some of the measures which have been introduced with virtually no opposition from, in this case, the teaching unions and may shed some light on the complete in effectiveness and uselessness of public sector unions whose leadership have sold their members down the Swanee whilst they themselves, as private sector workers, retain the same pay and perks since 2008.