Education International
Education International

Ireland: unions rally for debt burden to be lifted

published 7 February 2013 updated 11 February 2013

EI affiliates in Ireland are taking part in a day of action organised by the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) this Saturday, 9 February. The protest will call for the €64 billion bank debt burden on Ireland to be lifted. It will take place simultaneously in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick, Waterford and Sligo.

Debt costs every Irish person €9000 According to figures from Eurostat, Ireland has paid more for the banking crisis than any other EU state. Indeed, the banking crisis has cost every person in Ireland almost €9,000 – compared to the EU average of €191 per person.

ICTU General Secretary David Begg said the bank debt now threatens the wellbeing of future generations. “This country faces the most dire consequences unless this burden is lifted and future generations will pay a heavy price unless a significant deal is done at European level,” he stated.

“It is extraordinary to think that a country with a workforce of 1.8 million has been saddled with a debt of €64 billion and that Ireland has the highest bailout bill in the Eurozone, larger even than Germany.”

Begg urged people from all sectors of society to participate in the February 9 protests: “This is an issue that transcends all others. There is no more critical issue facing Irish society at this juncture.”

Top comedy, music and children’s activities are also being organised to provide entertainment at the rally and make it a family-friend occasion.

“We are encouraging families to participate, because ultimately this is about an unfair debt that will be passed on to our children and our grandchildren,” said ICTU Assistant General Secretary Sally Anne Kinahan.

Teachers march together The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI), the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO), and the Association of Secondary Teachers (ASTI) are all joining the rally to protest that Ireland has already paid a heavy price for the reckless actions of banks across the Eurozone.

As in many other countries, the financial crisis in Ireland is being used as an excuse for imposing major ‘reforms’ in the education sector. These include additional teaching and non-teaching time, accountability and evaluation initiatives, reform of sick leave, and curricular reform and innovation.

From an overall cut of €1 billion in public services, a reduction of approximately €350 million is being sought in public education. This is done through various measures including additional working time and adjustments to allowances/overtime, pay/pensions, as well as in supervision and substitution of teachers.

In this context, education trade unions have denounced the fact that new teachers have been unfairly targeted. Following a series of cuts to new teachers’ pay, a typical teacher who started work for the first time in September 2012 is being paid 20 per cent less than she or he would have earned in 2010.

EI solidarity EI stands in solidarity with its Irish affiliates and believes, like them, that ordinary people, workers, and trade unions did not cause the global financial crisis and should not be made to pay the price.

EI also asserts that the responsibility for the crisis lies firmly with the greed of the financial sector and the continued condoning of that greed by governments which fuel it with round after round of deregulation.

To find out more about this Day of Action in Ireland, please click here

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Why I'm marching on February 9 from Irish Congress of Trade Unions on Vimeo.