THE Laois branch of the TUI has called on Laois VEC CEO Anne O’ Keeffe to re-engage with the Labour Relations Commission (LRC), after a decision found in favour of Laois VEC in a dispute over teacher transfers.
They said that the onus is now on the CEO to show that the transfers were fair and free from motive.
The Laois branch issued a statement to the Leinster Express calling for re-engagement, even though a decision was reached on the dispute between the TUI and the VEC late last year. The dispute began over the transfer of teachers and resulted in two protests as well as a threatened strike.
The statement noted the CEO’s wishes for a spirit of mutual respect and cooperation but said that this would not be possible unless there was a full resolution to the transfer dispute.
“The LRC arbitrator Raymond McGee stated that he was not asked ‘to decide on the fairness or otherwise of transferring the teachers concerned’ nor was he asked ‘to ascribe motive’. TUI believes that these points, as stated in the arbitration report, now need to be addressed. TUI believes that it is necessary to have this cleared up in a further arbitration process”, said branch chairperson Mary Higgins.
She said that the TUI refutes the Laois CEO’s statement that the arbitrator went to the very core of how decisions on transfers are made. Ms Higgins told the Leinster Express that arbitrator Raymond McGee stated: ‘There consequently falls for consideration the question of who decides what satisfies the educational needs of the scheme’.
“The arbitrator did not define the term ‘educational needs’, therefore, he did not get to the very core of how decisions were made”, she said.
“TUI has always defined educational needs as curricular needs. TUI knows that other criteria outside of those which relate to the educational needs of the scheme were taken into account when the CEO decided to transfer two long serving teachers from Portlaoise College in May 2012”.
Ms Higgins added that the teacher transfer agreement has been in place for the past 14 years and in those years, there has been no dispute between TUI and the IVEA over the interpretation of the agreement.
“By its silence the IVEA has reneged on the transfer agreement and therefore it is difficult for TUI to continue to be party to this agreement. The IVEA did not participate in the recent arbitration hearing but instead Laois VEC replaced the IVEA by utilising scarce tax-payers’ funding to engage expensive expert legal opinion in an industrial relations’ forum”.
Ms Higgins said that the Laois branch has put forward a motion to its annual Congress at Easter condemning the IVEA for its “failure to openly endorse the TUI`s explanation of clause 6 of the 1999 TUI/IVEA Transfer Agreement”, adding that the TUI will not stop making statements to the press on the issue.
“The TUI believes in freedom of expression and will continue to make statements to the press on matters including the teacher transfer dispute. TUI calls on County Laois VEC to review its policy on allowing individual VEC members adequate allocation of time to express opinions, and those so in the interests of democracy and free speech. The TUI reiterates its request to the County Laois VEC CEO to reengage with Labour Relations Commission to achieve a normal industrial relations outcome”.
When contacted by the Leinster Express, Laois VEC CEO Anne O’ Keeffe said that she had no comment to make.