independent

Friday 18 April 2014

Video: Teachers on alert as up to 80 allowances targeted for cuts

Department of Education officials say they are looking at axing as many as 80 allowances paid to teachers who are working at the moment.

AROUND 12,000 teachers and education staff are facing substantially more allowance cuts than have already been announced.

Department of Education officials say they are looking at axing as many as 80 allowances paid to teachers who are working at the moment -- and not just for new entrants to the profession.

It is expected that the payments will include, amongst others, the island allowance, which is worth €1,842 a year, and the Gaeltacht grant of €3,063.

Public Spending Minister Brendan Howlin announced this month that 88 allowances for current workers across the public sector will be scrapped, with 12 of these in education.

But education is now facing cuts in a further 68 allowances for current teachers and other staff, bringing the total to 80. The move would affect 12,000 staff and save €16m.

This is in addition to Mr Howlin's stopping of allowances for new entrants to the public sector, of which around 35 were scrapped for new teachers and education workers.

And in a move likely to spark concern among teaching unions, Department of Education secretary general Sean O Foghlu is not revealing which allowances are being examined for teachers already in work.

However, it is thought that many in the third-level and VEC sector will be hit, with those which have been stopped for new entrants also likely to be taken off existing workers.

There are an estimated 400 allowances paid across the education sector, out of 1,100 across the entire public sector.

The three most common allowances are the supervision and substitution allowance, the qualification allowance and the management allowance. It is thought unlikely that these will be touched.

Some 90pc of teachers get two or more allowances, mostly from the main three. Around 95pc of teachers receive the supervision and substitution allowance, which is worth €1,769, and makes up 3.9pc of an average teacher's wage.

Qualification allowances can vary between €4,918 for an honours degree to €1,236 for those with an honours H Dip teaching qualification degree.

Mr O Foghlu, who appeared before the Dail's Public Accounts Committee (PAC) yesterday, said these were considered part of core pay, which means that they are unlikely to be hit but may be renamed or shifted into core pay packets.

The supervision and substitution allowance was given to teachers after strikes in 2001 and 2002.

They were given extra cash as an allowance because the Government of the day did not want to give teachers an increase in core pay, which would have led to pay claims in other sectors because of social partnership.

It also emerged that three teachers in the country are being paid over €110,000. A number of others are getting over €100,000 but the department was unable to provide figures on how many.

Mr O Foghlu said these sums would only be paid to principals in the biggest schools in the country, who have a number of allowances on top of core pay.

Waterford TD John Deasy said the Department of Education had the most allowances of any department and said it "created an avenue for the creation of allowances which, frankly, cannot be justified any longer".

His Fine Gael colleague Kieran O'Donnell said that some allowances should be abolished but that others should be kept within core pay.

Irish Independent

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