Why I’m Voting NO to LRA

I attended an LRA information meeting yesterday evening at 8pm in the Regency Hotel organised by the INTO. I had a rough enough idea before this that I’d be voting no. Despite the efforts of the CEC’s representative and with a little help from a ‘Breis Eolais’ leaflet distributed by Voice For Teachers, I can categorically state that I will be voting no to this government’s laughable attempts at pay restoration. Here’s why:

  1. The Lansdowne Road Agreement does nothing to address pay equalisation between pre-2011, 2011 and 2012 graduates. There is a minor increase of roughly €309 on Point 1 of the 2012 scale but this is it. People are under the impression that 2011 graduates have already had their pay equalised but that is not fully true. They started on Point 1 of the scale, regardless of how they qualified (undergrad/postgrad). I qualified in 2009 and started on Point 3 of the original pay scale due to having trained as a teacher on a postgraduate (consecutive) course. Others on this scale who completed undergraduate (concurrent) teacher training started on Point 2. So depending on how you look at it, the 2011 graduates with their pay ‘equalisation’ will always be one or two increments behind what they should rightfully be on. 2012 graduates are still on an entirely unequal pay scale and the LRA, if agreed to, precludes us from making further pay claims during the lifetime of the agreement. In effect, the LRA sets pay inequality in stone. If we agree to LRA, we are agreeing to pay inequality.
  2. The Haddington Road Agreement hasn’t expired yet. It’s supposed to run until 2016. The LRA incorporates elements of the HRA but we won’t see a penny of an improvement for at least 14 months. 14 months is a long time and a lot can happen in that amount of time. If we agree to LRA, we’re waiting around for another 14 months for something that may or may not happen. Who knows? We may be asked to agree to something new, what with the general election less than a year away.
  3. Croke Park Hours! We signed up to this in 2010 and primary school teachers are now required to work an extra 37 hours a year. This hasn’t gone away.
  4. The LRA does not end FEMPI. We are being led to believe that certain elements of it will be unwound in the form of improvements in the pension levy, but without a clear commitment on the end of FEMPI, I cannot in good faith agree to something that doesn’t give FEMPI a sell-by date.

I know that there are certain people who will claim that pay will be increased under LRA in the form of partial payback of the supervision payment, as well as a separate increase of €2000 spread over a number of years, but what they’re forgetting is that this is not a pay increase. It is partial PAY RESTORATION. And it falls short of what was taken from us since 2010.

If you haven’t made up your mind yet, think about what this deal really offers. Ask yourself if our unions could manage something better if we rejected it and told them to go back to the negotiating table. This happened with Croke Park 2, and we got the HRA instead, for our sins.

We deserve better. Vote No.

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