30 October 2008 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe BY STEPHANIE LORD

Education cutbacks affect teachers and students

THE Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) and the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) have said they believe the cutbacks in the Fianna Fáil/PD/Green Party Budget will result in 1,000 teaching posts being lost over the next year.
Fianna Fáil Minister for Education Batt O’Keefe has denied this and claimed that there will ‘only’ be 200 teaching jobs affected.
INTO General Secretary John Carr said that the ministerial claims that only 200 jobs would be affected could now be dismissed as a “mere fantasy”. One hundred thousand primary school children will be in classes of 30 or more from September next year as a further result of the job cuts.
Student drop-out rates are now also set to become an increasing worry for parents and teachers with the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) stating that student retention programmes will be massively hit by the cutbacks.
The TUI has now made calls on the Government to look into discontinuing the €100m paid to private schools while they are cutting provision for the disadvantaged. The Government currently subsidises the salaries of 1,500 teachers, principals, and deputy principals in private fee-paying schools.
TUI General Secretary Peter MacMenamin said the private schools sector “will not lie awake perturbed over cuts to the school-book grant or other disadvantaged initiatives”.
Many of the teachers employed in the private schools are members of the ASTI, however the ASTI have not made any comment regarding the TUI calls to stop public funds going to private schools.


Unions’ pay deal deliberations continue

MEMBERS of trade unions have commenced voting on whether to accept or reject the proposed pay deal for the 26 Counties.
The proposed deal includes a pay increase of 6 per cent over 21 months which may not cover the rising cost of living even if inflation drops.
SIPTU President Jack O’Connor has said that a rejection of the deal will have no effect on the recent harsh cutbacks in the Budget. The Mandate trade union has also recommended acceptance of the deal. SIPTU has said that the proposed agreement does not meet all of its aspirations but believes it will not secure legislation on employment protection if it does not agree to the deal.
The employers’ bodies are also continuing their discussions on the deal and the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) have said that it is “inevitable” they will not agree to the pay rise.
It is believed that the CIF are seeking to renegotiate the deal to secure a year-long pay freeze.


DUP threat to Long Kesh jobs

COMMENTING on the release of a report this week by the Constructors’ Employers’ Federation (CEF) indicating that 8,000 construction jobs have been lost or are under threat, Sinn Féin Assembly member Barry McElduff said that the decision by the DUP to stall for the past year on the Long Kesh site was directly contributing to job losses in the construction industry.
McElduff said:
“The CEF report indicates that 8,000 construction jobs have been lost or are under threat. This at a time when the DUP continues to stall on the issue of the Long Kesh site because of divisions within that party on the way forward.
“And this is not simply the issue about the stadium.
“The Long Kesh site consists of hundreds of acres and initially there is the potential for hundreds if not thousands of construction jobs.
“No doubt the DUP will cry crocodile tears over the situation faced by the construction industry while at the same time failing to acknowledge that they have directly contributed to this situation because of their inaction.”


Nursing courses reduced after cutbacks

NEWS emerged this week that the number of places available to study nursing will be reduced by more than 300 next year. This represents a 16 per cent drop in the 26 Counties.
The worst cutbacks are said to affect NUI Galway and University of Limerick, who will lose 28 per cent and 29 per cent of their usual intake.
Irish Nurses’s Organisation General Secretary Liam Doran said that these cutbacks will leave the health service even more dependent on recruiting nurses from overseas.

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