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Dáil Éireann debate -
Thursday, 11 Feb 1988

Vol. 377 No. 8

Ceisteanna — Questions. Oral Answers. - Voluntary Redundancy Scheme.


asked the Minister for Education the reason she decided to exclude those teachers at present on career breaks from the recent offer of early retirement-voluntary redundancy; and if she will consider making that offer available to some or all of those teachers so affected who would now wish to avail of it.


asked the Minister for Education if the voluntary redundancy scheme for teachers is available to teachers on unpaid leave of absence but working overseas without a condition that they must return home and obtain a teaching post first.

I propose to take Questions Nos. 12 and 59 together. The early retirement-voluntary redundancy scheme is one which applies to the public sector as a whole. The terms of the scheme preclude its application to members of the public service in any sector on career breaks or unpaid leave of absence, with the exception of those on unpaid sick or maternity leave. This provision applies to members of the teaching profession in the same way that it applies to all other public servants.

The voluntary redundancy-early retirement scheme is in keeping with the Government's commitment to reduce public service numbers and will apply only to the extent that the number of excess teaching posts in the 1988-89 school-year cannot be eliminated by other means, such as natural wastage, redeployment and career breaks.

Accordingly, this scheme is open only to serving permanent teachers.

There is a number of cases where a teacher, or some other person in the wider public service, may be on leave of absence for a year or a certain given period and may now decide to leave the public service. These people are not being encouraged to do so. The teacher who has taken a year off for a very valid reason will have to go back to the school, appear to be in a full-time teaching position and then, if the package is still available, apply for it. The point I am trying to make is that many younger teachers are unemployed and we should be encouraging existing teachers to take retirement if they wish to do so.

Yes. I understand your question relates to primary teaching.

I note that you have had correspondence about primary teachers. The scheme applies to the public sector in general. It is not that the Department of Education made a particular rule about career breaks. Any man or woman on a career break from any sector of the public service is not eligible to apply for voluntary redundancy or early retirement. There would be enormous difficulties in the case of teachers because a teacher on a career break of one year or more would have been replaced by another teacher on a temporary contract. It would be invidious of any teacher to come back and tell the temporary teacher to go. I am sure no teacher would wish to do so.

Deputy Colley seems to be trying to steer through a problem that has become apparent in this area where a teacher presently on leave of absence must come back and take up a teaching post thereby depriving somebody else, perhaps a young teacher or a new entrant to the teaching profession, of a job in order to apply for the voluntary redundancy scheme. That is entirely illogical given the number of unemployed teachers looking for work. Will the Minister look at what Deputy Colley and myself are saying, that it seems illogical that somebody should take up a post, depriving somebody else of a post, in order to apply for this voluntary redundancy packet? Perhaps the Minister will look at this and correspond with us?

I have received an amount of correspondence from various Deputies on the matter.

Since there are more applications for the redundancy package than are required, as a means of allowing for the employment of teachers who actually wish to teach, would the Minister consider allowing teachers into the profession instead of keeping them on the dole?

We thought we had problems before Christmas, but another problem has now arisen in that there are twice and three times as many as anticipated seeking voluntary retirement. Of course I will consider all the correspondence which comes to me on the matter. However, the public sector voluntary redundancy-early retirement scheme clearly envisages that teachers or anybody else on a career break will not be eligible and that a person must be on active service before an application can be considered. I will certainly consider and answer any correspondence addressed to me.

We must now come to deal with questions nominated for priority.