Friday 20 September 2019

ASTI tells Education Minister Joe McHugh to address pay inequality for teachers

Education Minister Joe McHugh. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire
Education Minister Joe McHugh. Photo: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

Anne-Marie Walsh

EDUCATION Minister Joe McHugh has been warned to deliver equal pay for teachers after the government showed there was “room for manoeuvre with nurses”.

In a speech at the ASTI annual convention in Wexford, President Breda Lynch referred to a deal worth over €35m to halt nurses strikes earlier this year.

Nurses are currently balloting on the proposal that was offered despite the fact that the current public sector pay deal rules out cost-increasing claims.

Mr Lynch told the minister she hoped an undertaking by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to address two-tier pay would be fulfilled.

Asti president Breda Lynch. Photo: Fergal Phillips
Asti president Breda Lynch. Photo: Fergal Phillips

Read more here: New deal to offer fairness for young teachers hit by education pay gap

She said the restoration of a hDip allowance is needed and teachers should start at point three of their incremental pay scale as was the case in the past, in recognition of their qualifications.

“I had hoped I would not be starting another presidential convention speech addressing the issue of pay inequality but alas that is where I find myself,” she said.

“Since you took up office as minister in October you have spoken respectfully to and about teachers.

“You have shown an understanding of the issues and have committed to tackling them. Minister we appreciate these sentiments and now call on you and your government to act. We need pay equality.”

Read more here: Katherine Donnelly: 'Government learns there is no such thing as partial equality'

She said the union hoped the new development on two-tier pay with the parties to the public sector pay deal is the pathway forward to full pay equality.

Although pay cuts are being reversed, there are still outstanding issues including allowances that have not been restored. Teachers also start on lower points on the pay scale than they used to.

She said nurses negotiated pay increases and improved terms, “theoretically within” the pay agreement.

Ms Lynch said measures announced last October to restore pay cuts that involved leapfrogging over two pay increments failed to address the inequality experienced by teachers.

“As we all know the teaching profession was hardest hit because we needed new teachers, crisis or no crisis,” she said.

Read more here: 'I would be €30,000 better off if I'd qualified a year earlier... it's a bitter pill to swallow'

She noted that graduates since 2015 are now taking a year longer to qualify because the hDip course was extended and start on a lower salary.

Meanwhile, she said a government decision not to take punitive measures against nurses for going on strike that had been used against secondary teachers in the past is welcome “but raises many questions”.

The ASTI’s legal team has written to the government for clarity on the issue of its decision to use emergency legislation to impose a pay freeze solely on ASTI members.

She told the minister she would like him to be a minister who turned things around and restored morale in the teaching profession.

“Equal pay, meaningful dialogue on curriculum change along with drawing a halt to the initiative and work overload in education will go a long way to earning you that accolade,” she said.

Read more here: Unions will hold minister to his pay promise

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