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City Technical Committee: Teachers' Refusal to Sign Agreements | Limerick Gazette Archives

City Technical Committee: Teachers’ Refusal to Sign Agreements

The fortnightly meeting of the City Technical Committee was held on Monday evening, chaired by the Very Rev Father Murphy. Also in attendance were Rev Brother Nolan, Miss Doyle, Messrs. W. B. Joyce, B. Magee, M. Montgomery, W. Ebrill, B. Cronin, along with Mr O’Dowd (principal) and Mr McNamara (secretary).

The minutes of the Executive Committee were read, revealing that four teachers—Dr Atkinson (physics), Thomas Redmond (plumbers), Mr McEligott (mechanics), and Mr E. Clarke (art)—had declined to sign the agreement requiring them to provide three months’ notice when leaving. Father Murphy explained the committee’s efforts to address the issue, emphasizing that the teachers would be accommodated if they showed urgency in securing new positions elsewhere, as long as it didn’t harm local classes. The teachers requested the inclusion of this information in the minutes, to which the committee agreed.

During the discussion, it became apparent that the teachers were determined to retain the right to leave with only one month’s notice, keeping an eye on job advertisements and giving three months’ notice only when they secured a higher-paying position. Father Murphy raised concerns about the implications for the classes. The committee feared the difficulties of finding a replacement in the middle of a session, often having to make arrangements via telegraph without sufficient time for proper inquiries. One case was cited where a teacher resigned with only one month’s notice, resulting in the committee having to pay one and a half times the salary to find a suitable replacement. Father Murphy deemed this situation unacceptable and argued that the committee should not agree to it.

Another aspect to consider was that these four teachers accounted for £505, nearly a quarter of the total income for the schools, exerting significant control over their work and funds. The teachers were essentially claiming the right to bring all work to a halt whenever they pleased. Father Murphy believed that the committee should not accept such a position. The majority of teachers, apart from the four, had signed the agreement. Father Murphy suggested seeking legal advice on the legal standing of teachers who signed for a specific term and proposed passing a resolution that, starting from the next term, any teacher who did not sign the agreement would be given one month’s notice. He expressed hope that by that time, the teachers would reconsider their stance.

Father Murphy found it curious that one of the teachers, who had been with them for six years and received salary increases, had refused to sign the agreement while simultaneously receiving a salary increase from the Department. He believed that the committee had treated this teacher generously and would continue to do so. Father Murphy called for decisive action and suggested that if the committee had no power to enforce the agreement at present, they should allow the teachers to finish the session. However, in the next session, they should present the agreement and require the teachers to sign it.

Mr Cronin raised concerns that if the committee indicated they would not retain the teachers’ services at the end of the session, the teachers might resign, leaving the committee in an awkward position. Miss Doyle believed there was a misunderstanding among the teachers, as she presumed none of them intended to leave before the end of the session.

Mr Mclnerney commented that the teachers seemed suspicious of the committee. He stressed that no reasonable person would prevent a teacher from leaving if a substitute could be found, but the committee had a responsibility to protect the classes. On Mr Mclnerney’s motion, seconded by Miss Doyle, it was agreed to seek the opinion of the committee’s legal adviser and present the agreement form to the teachers before the next session, making it a necessary condition to give three months’ notice.

Other matters discussed included a letter from Mr O’Gilvie declining the position of painting teacher due to the offered salary increase. Additionally, letters regarding the Barrington and Gilchrist lectures in Limerick were deemed late for the current year and would be considered for the following year. The committee decided to politely decline any further involvement in the Barrington Lectures, as it was reported that the trustees had shown a preference for a young Englishman over qualified Irish candidates.

A letter from Most Rev Dr O’Dwyer expressing gratitude for the invitation to distribute prizes was read, along with the information that the Mayor had been invited to perform the task. The meeting was adjourned.

Limerick Echo – Tuesday 01 November 1904