Wednesday, 3 May 1995
Dáil Éireann Debate
The Army Apprentice School was established in 1956 in Devoy Barracks, Naas, by the Department of Defence for the education and training of apprentices. All apprentices there complete a  recognised apprenticeship and are registered with FAS for this purpose. The school is staffed by 13 teachers who are employed by County Kildare vocational education committee and seconded to the Department of Defence.
If one were to examine the history of the school, one would have to be impressed by its proud record. The school has produced the best of apprentices every year and a high standard has been maintained over many years. In the national apprentices competition, the Army Apprentice School has produced three winners in the carpentry section in the past six years. Each year the school provides competitors for the finals. Unfortunately, the teachers responsible for achieving these marvellous results were forced to picket outside the Department's offices today. That is the thanks they received for those achievements.
The dispute between the teaching staff in the Army Apprentice School and the Department of Education could and should have been resolved a long time ago. There is little point in the Minister suggesting that it would be appropriate for the union to pursue the claim through the machinery of the conciliation and arbitration scheme for teachers. They have been down that road already, unfortunately to no avail. Despite an assertion by the Minister earlier today, no agreement was reached in regard to this matter. It would appear that what the Minister was referring to was the Department's interpretation of the findings of the arbitrator.
The present dispute in the Army Apprentice School has developed as a result of the Department of Education refusing to apply fully the appropriate agreements — agreed reports 14/79 and 5/82 — to the teaching staff. Following the findings of the arbitrator in 1987, these agreements have been applied, in part only, to the teaching staff in the school. The agreements are applied in full to their counterparts in the regional technical colleges and the Dublin Institute of Technology. Why is this  blatant discrimination allowed to continue?
The teachers in the Army Apprentice School are only looking for equal pay for equal work. The arbitration report, No. 15, states that the teachers in the Army Apprentice School are doing the same work as their colleagues in the regional technical colleges and the Dublin Institute of Technology. Does the Minister agree that the work in the Army Apprentice School is equal to that carried out by the colleges?
Will the Minister allow this type of discrimination to continue? The teachers in the Army Apprentice School in Naas are seeking parity with colleagues doing similar work in the regional technical and Dublin Institute of Technology colleges.
The Minister for Education has a very demanding job and I know it is impossible for any Minister to be kept informed on everything that is ongoing in the Department. From my experience of dealing with the Minister I have found her to be fair-minded and I appeal to her to read the file. I have no doubt she will then find it impossible to disagree with the case being put by the teachers in the Army Apprentice School.
The teachers have patiently explored every avenue open to them in search of a solution. Today they are angered and frustrated by the lack of progress. They deserve better. I ask the Minister to rectify this ridiculous situation and give the teachers what they rightly deserve and allow them to continue their excellent work.
Ms Bhreathnach: I am glad the Deputy has raised this matter as it gives me an opportunity to inform the House of my Department's position. I understand that the Deputy is referring specifically to teachers on the staff of the Army Aprentice School in Naas, County Kildare. The teachers there are employed by County Kildare Vocational Education Committee. My Department is aware that teachers in  the Army Apprentice School are seeking pay levels equivalent to lecturer 1 in a regional technical college. The matter has been taken up with my Department on their behalf by the Teachers' Union of Ireland.
Ms Bhreathnach: This agreement was reached on foot of an arbitration finding on a TUI claim for salary increases for teachers in the Army Apprentice School, Naas and the Air Corps School, Baldonnell. The agreement was in full and final settlement of the union's claim and provided that: six staff members be granted salary scales at a level equivalent to lecturer 1 grade; all other staff members be granted salary scales equivalent to college teacher grade; selection procedures for award of lecturer 1 salary to six teachers would be by way of competitive interview by selection board; nothing in the agreement could be construed as regrading of teachers concerned; existing conditions of service of staff would not be altered and the effective date of all salary changes be 1 December 1987.
The Teachers' Union of Ireland is seeking to have promotion arrangements appropriate to regional technical college grades applied to the staff in the Army Apprentice School. The TUI hold that as the staff in the Army Apprentice School are paid the salary scales payable to college teacher and lecturer 1 grades in regional technical colleges the terms of agreed reports 14/79 and 5/82 of the Conciliation Council for Teachers should appy to them. Agreed report 5/82 sets out the terms and procedures for promotion from college teacher to  lecturer 1 in the regional technical colleges and Dublin Institute of Technology. Under agreed report 5/82 where a college teacher is required to teach in excess of 40 per cent of his/her time tabled hours on third level work, a teacher concerned may be up-graded to lecturer 1.
Neither the arbitaration report nor the agreement on its implementation had the effect of grading the teachers in the Army Apprentice School as either college teacher or lecturer 1. They retain hours of work and other conditions of service appropriate to vocational teachers on the common basic scale. As teachers with salary scales at levels equivalent to college teacher but without the grading of college teacher, the teachers do not come within the ambit of the terms of agreed reports 14/79 and 5/82.
My Department's view on the union's claim is that it constitutes a claim for improvement in the conditions of service of the teachers concerned. As such the claim has to be processed under the relevant provisions of the Programme for Competitiveness and Work pay agreement.
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