Criticism by teachers was ‘unwarranted’

The head of the body the represents VECs has issued a strong defence of his body and Laois VEC following stinging criticism from teachers.

The head of the body the represents VECs has issued a strong defence of his body and Laois VEC following stinging criticism from teachers.

Michael Moriarty, General Secretary of the Irish Vocational and Educational Association (IVEA) defended the IVEA and Laois VEC CEO Anne O’ Keefe against comments levelled by the Laois branch of the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) in last week’s Leinster Express.

“The IVEA engages with the TUI on a national level but because of this unwarrented criticism I feel compelled to make this statement. I will defend any representative of the IVEA against unwarrented and unexpected comment, which I was surprised to see in last week’s paper,” he said.

Mr Moriarity spoke about IVEA involvement in the Labour Relations Commission arbitration.

“The Laois branch of the TUI said that we didn’t participate in the arbitration process. That is not true. This is a local issue between the employer and the employee, but our staff were fully engaged in the process and were included in the arbitration. It is not correct to say that we weren’t engaged,” he said.

Mr Moriarity said the arbitration found in favour of the Laois CEO.

“The CEO has a statuatory entitlement to manage the staff and educational needs of the scheme. This needs to be said and it is only fair and correct to draw attention to the outcome. If there is any negotiation through normal channels, the IVEA engages with the TUI at a national level and there is a mutual respect and understanding between both parties,” he said.

Mr Moriarity also referred to the arbitration decision document written by Raymond McGee last November. Mr McGee stated: “The onus of deciding what satisfied the educational needs of the scheme which might affect the principal of ‘last in, first out’, lay solely within the control of the CEO of Laois VEC, statutorily replacing the VEC itself and as an executive function of that position”.

Mr Moriarity added that it is not for any arbitrator to decide the educational needs of the school, he said this rests with the VEC and its CEO. He praised the Laois VEC CEO.

“The CEO has been quite stoic over the past number of months in terms of ongoing public comment by the Laois branch of the TUI. Her job is to manage the scheme and the staff in the scheme,” he said.

He emphasised that in his 16 years as general secretary of the IVEA, he has always had a good relationship with the TUI and that will continue.

“We haven’t renaged on any transfer agreement. The TUI and the IVEA brought this to the Labour Relations Commission and the arbitrator made the decision”. He also spoke of the IVEA’s relationship with other educational bodies.

“My organisation has a very good standing with the Department of Education. I’m mystified by why my organisation should endorse the TUI position in respect of transfer agreements. I represent my members which are the 33 VECs around Ireland, including Laois VEC. I cannot represent the Laois branch of the TUI,” he said.