Monday, 16 November 2009

INTO - With friends like these, who needs enemies?

I have just penned this letter to the papers:

Dear Sir/Madam,
In common with many clergy in Ireland I am a school manager and Chairperson of the parish school Board of Management. (I am aware that that is an issue in itself but that is a discussion for another day.) Today, in this capacity I received written strike notice from INTO (Irish National Teachers' Organisation), informing me of the forthcoming industrial action on Tuesday 24 November 2009.
I was not at all surprised to get the letter but I was surprised and disappointed at the tone of the letter. It informed me (in bold type) that 'members in all schools have been directed to withdraw their services on that day. Accordingly, INTO members will not attend for work on Tuesday 24 November 2009. Yours sincerely........'
My disappointment stems from what the letter failed to say as opposed to what it said. There was no expression of regret for the disruption that this would cause for children and families and nor was there any acknowledgement of the discomfort most teachers feel in withdrawing service. In my experience the vast majority of our teachers have a deeply vocational attitude to their work and despite the common begrudgery surrounding their hours and holidays serve us and our children exceptionally well. The teachers that I have the pleasure of engaging with are women and men with a real love for their work and the children they teach.
These teachers deserve better than the abrupt communication delivered on their behalf by the INTO. If I was a member of that union I would feel badly let down. In the current financial crisis there is an emerging consensus that we need as a people to express common ground and to build a sense of shared rights and responsibilities. This arrogant and callous communication will only serve to deepen division and confirm prejudice. I would implore teachers to make sure that they are better served in future for this is a betrayal of their integrity by those who are supposed to be their allies and fellow professionals.

Rev'd Canon Stephen Neill
Modreeny Rectory,
Co. Tipperary


Shane said...

Our Labour laws now require that every i is dotted and t is crossed before someone can even consider strike. For that reason, I would think the letter comes from a strict template this is there on the INTO website.

Póló said...


Surely it still does not stop the representative organisation explaining why they are taking the action and expressing regret to those who will be inconvenienced.

I gather from listening to the radio today that some teachers consider they did not vote for strike action in advance of the budget.

I wonder do people really appreciate the very deep hole this country is in? Whatever about the cause of this, and the justifiable anger and righteous vengeance involved, we are either going to climb out of it together or sink together.

Paddyanglican said...

Póló - you took the words out of my mouth.

Bock the Robber said...

Would you have any views on the activities of the government that caused the current financial crisis, prompting the communication from the INTO?

Paddyanglican said...

I do Bock but there are plenty of people playing the blame game - that moral high ground is overcrowded and barren. We need to deal with where we are and end the politics of division and start working together. Hence my response to the INTO communication

Bock the Robber said...

It's important to keep the focus where it should be. If the INTO's letter was brusque, that's unacceptable.

However, if the activities causing the problem are criminal, we should measure our response accordingly.

Joc Sanders said...

Bravo, Bock!
The chorus of voices from right wing politicians, commentators and business leaders sticks in the craw. They assert that the rich who benefited from the bubble economy cannot afford to pay more taxes. They assert that services for the poor, the marginalised and the vulnerable must be cut to correct the budget deficit. That deficit was largely caused by the irresponsible actions of a government intent on helping its developer and banking friends boost their profits.
I am reminded of Jesus's warning, 'Beware of the scribes ... they devour widows' houses!'

Paddyanglican said...

Joc - yes the behaviour of a significant number of people was criminal but let's not add to the polarizing of society. There is no Pot of Gold and if the Government taxes businesses disproportionately then they will destroy job creation and lengthen the dole queues. If business has no incentive then it will depart these shores for good. Beware of quick fixes. Incidentally I am not for hitting the poor but we do need to tackle the huge levels of fraud and I'll-targetted benefits which are bleeding the nation dry.

Bock the Robber said...

Taxing business is one thing, but all those billions didn't simply evaporate. They found their way into people's pockets. I see no harm in following the money trail to establish who benefited disproportionately and perhaps unfairly, from the tiger's feeding frenzy. I see nothing wrong with asking those people to contribute something back in a time of emergency. Their patriotic duty, to quote Brian Lenihan when he addressed the ordinary worker.

Stephen Neill said...

Bock - No argument but I suspect that for the most part that money was reinvested in the unsustainable property bubble and is now largely an un-realizable asset

Bock the Robber said...

Perhaps it was reinvested, but it had to end up somewhere. It didn't just disappear.

Joc Sanders said...

And it's not polarising to insist that the only way to correct the budgetary problem is to cut services from the poor and the vulnerable, without requiring the better off to contribute more in taxes?
The rich remain rich. For example a rich tycoon - we all know who -has gifted his children €200M this year. Professional fees remain obscene compared to the average wage. And the threat to skip the country if asked to pay taxes seen as reasonable elsewhere is no better than blackmail. Shame on them - and shame on those who make these arguments.