TUI backs ballot on strike action if pay 'gulf' not resolved
The Government faces the threat of industrial action by Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) members over four separate education rows.
Education Minister Richard Bruton assured more than 300 TUI delegates at its Cork conference that "significant progress" had already been made on restoring pay and allowances, with more in prospect.
However, the TUI yesterday backed a ballot for industrial action in October if "discriminatory rates are still in place" in September for teachers hired since 2011. It is a significant hardening of the union's position.
TUI president Joanne Irwin warned that while the union accepted progress had been made through negotiations, it was now fully prepared for industrial action if pay inequality was not addressed.
"TUI would wish for industrial peace - on honourable and principled grounds - to allow us to make the progress that we believe is possible," she said. "Our members who entered their profession since 2011 have been disgracefully discriminated against by Government. It is not a gap in pay parity - it is a gulf."
Potential industrial action is now looming over rows about pay inequality, institutes of technology, flexi-hours and the Droichead scheme.
Mr Bruton urged teachers to tackle their demands through new national pay talks.
"We are entering into a new phase where there are the opportunities to pursue those (demands) in a very real way," he said. But Mr Bruton warned that, despite a record education budget increase of €458m, all demands cannot be immediately met.
"As a minister I have to make sure that I am fair and equal to all those who have a legitimate demand on my spending resources," he said.
Public Reform Minister Paschal Donohoe has estimated that tackling pay inequality would cost €1.5bn.
"Any (strike) disruption to a parent or a pupil is something that I do not seek and I do not want," he said.
"There is a balance to be struck. I think we can work with the unions to manage that."