Teachers’ union under unprecedented threat of legal action against Ictu


Second-tier teachers’ union ASTI has warned of possible legal action against the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) in a dispute over ‘spheres of influence’ and the right to represent teachers in some schools .

ASTI is affiliated with Ictu and the issuance of legal correspondence and the threat of legal action are considered unprecedented in the labor movement.

The problem arose out of an internal dispute resolution committee process established by the Ictu – the umbrella body for the trade union movement – to deal with an ASTI complaint that the teachers’ union should have the right to recruit and represent teachers in specific types of schools.

There has been friction for some time between ASTI and the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) over performance rights.

However, details of ASTI’s warning that it may take legal action have appeared publicly in material Ictu is preparing for affiliates ahead of its next biennial conference in Belfast in two weeks.

A report from the executive council of the Ictu published in recent days indicates that ASTI’s lawyers had written to him warning him that he reserved the right to initiate proceedings, if necessary, arising from the treatment of a committee. litigation and the subsequent appeal process regarding his complaint. Posted.

ASTI argued in its complaint that the spheres of influence / representational rights established in secondary schools had been violated by TUI.

A first ICTU litigation committee supported, in substance, the establishment of a system of “open recruitment” by unions in community and comprehensive schools, schools of the education and training council, volunteer schools and schools educate together. This would be the subject of a protocol being developed on how it would work in practice.

ASTI appealed and argued that an arrangement for shared performance rights would be of greater value to TUI when it would be “significantly disadvantaged”.

ASTI also argued that the Disputes Committee was not properly constituted under the rules of the Ictu. It is understood that this may form the basis of the warning of possible legal action.

The appeal committee did not accept ASTI’s complaint.

Second complaint

Ictu did not respond to questions about whether legal proceedings had in fact been initiated. ASTI said: “As these matters are confidential, we cannot comment.”

ASTI’s complaint about spheres of influence and rights of representation was the second it had filed against TUI.

A separate complaint regarding allegations that the TUI “poached” members during a dispute with the then government in 2017 over the Ictu’s rules was resolved in March. TUI paid nearly € 280,000 in compensation to ASTI, which initially requested around € 6 million.

ASTI argued in the appeal that it represented exclusively second-level teachers while TUI also had members who were teacher-researchers in third-level institutions. ASTI argued that a proposed shared performing rights agreement would be of greater value to TUI when it would be “significantly disadvantaged”.

TUI disputed this assertion. TUI said about 14,600 of its members in total, or just over 19,000, were in post-primary or secondary schools. He argued that since ASTI had around 16,000 members, the difference between the two organizations was quite small.

The TUI claimed that the post-primary sector is growing and that due to the agreed pupil-teacher ratios, the number of teachers in the sector will continue to increase in the years to come. He also argued that most of the growth in teacher numbers would occur in schools traditionally organized exclusively by TUI. He maintained that the open recruitment proposal would give ASTI the ability to recruit members in areas that were previously prohibited.

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