Dáil Éireann - Volume 296 - 09 February, 1977

Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Technicians' Dispute.

25. Mr. Wilson asked the Minister for Education the steps he is taking to solve the technicians' dispute in Kevin Street and Bolton Street Colleges of Technology, Dublin.

Mr. P. Barry: The whole question of special pay increases over and above the standard pay increases of the national wage agreements is under consideration in the light of the proposals for a new employer/trade union national agreement, 1977, which are at present before employers and trade unions for ratification. In this connection I would refer the Deputy to the remarks made by the Minister for Finance on this subject in his budget speech on 26th January, 1977.

Mr. Wilson: Would the Minister agree that this dispute creates a hazard equal to that of which we have just been talking in regard to the holding of examinations in those two schools?

Mr. P. Barry: Yes, I think it is a very serious dispute. The Deputy knows the background to the dispute [1143] and the embargo that existed in the public pay sector in 1976. The Minister for Finance said in his budget speech that subject to the ratification of the new wage agreement included in the budget there was a certain sum for this year for special increases of this nature. That is no guarantee that it will apply in this case but there is a sum of money available if the national agreement is ratified this day fortnight.

Mr. Wilson: Is it true that the corresponding technicians in University Collage Dublin and other institutions have already received this increase and is this basic to the dispute?

Mr. P. Barry: That is part of the dispute.

Mr. Wilson: Will the Minister say why the Department will not sanction the increase seeing that it has been sanctioned by the university colleges?

Mr. P. Barry: It is not the Department of Education but the Government as a whole who decide that they must make an effort to stop the growth and as far as possible reduce public expenditure. On 19th December, 1975, they imposed an embargo on any special pay increases for the following calendar year to ensure that there would not be a growth in that sector. the people involved in this dispute were caught in that embargo.

Mr. Wilson: Would the Minister not agree that it is illogical to be pushing the importance of technicians and technology and for a ha'pworth of tar spoiling the two leading technical institutions by withholding this pay increase?

Mr. P. Barry: That is one way of looking at it but it is the accumulation of ha'pworths of tar that can do the damage.

(Interruptions.)

An Ceann Comhairle: I want to get on to another question.

Mr. Tunney: Because of the prevailing chaos and imminent disaster arising from this situation, would the [1144] Minister ask the technicians, in view of the statement by the Minister for Finance that their case could be settled, not to take the industrial action they propose to take this week?

Mr. P. Barry: They are fully aware of that position.

Mr. Tunney: Has the Minister given them hope that their case could be settled in a matter of weeks?

Mr. P. Barry: I would not like to raise false hopes in that regard because they will have to take their place among many other claimants for a limited amount of money, but they are aware that the Minister for Finance made the statement that there is money included in this year's budget for special increases.

Mr. Tunney: Does the Minister realise that the Department of Education have been aware of the position for almost a year and have done nothing about it?

Mr. P. Barry: The Department of Education have been the whipping boy for many people inside and outside this House for many years. This is Government policy.