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Pay deal split spells confusion

Irish teachers are split over a pay, allowances and pensions package worth Pounds 60 million (IRPounds 66.7m) which had been offered by the government. It has been accepted by primary teachers but rejected by those in secondary schools.

The outcome of the voting hit the reform plans of the Irish education minister, Niamh Bhreathnach. Officials from her ministry were in contact with union leaders all week to see what can be salvaged.

The package would shorten pay scales, and many teachers would get increased allowances and the offer of early retirement. They were asked to agree to a revamped management structure, to accept non-teaching duties and agree to standardise the school year.

The minister has been told by the government that no additional money can be offered. Also, opposition was so widespread that no single change would ensure the package's acceptance in a new ballot.

The package took almost two years to negotiate. The subsequent disagreement has led to bitter recriminations and dominated this week's annual union congresses.

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