Friday 18 October 2019

Easter deadline for Government to find agreement with school unions


Education Minister Joe McHugh
Education Minister Joe McHugh
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

The three teachers' unions have held discussions with the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA) oversight body in recent weeks.

Further meetings are scheduled, with one union source saying: "We are talking and we are not talking about nothing."

The teacher unions are pressing for a deal ahead of their annual Easter conferences in April - and, if not, they will trigger ballots on industrial action.

They are carefully examining the Labour Court recommendation for the nurses and are awaiting the finer details of the proposed new nursing contract, to be finalised over the next three weeks.

Lower pay scales were introduced in the public service from 2011 and affected greater numbers of teachers than any other grade.

They have been in the forefront of the campaign to restore pay equality.

Unlike most other unions, the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) and the Association of Secondary Teachers' Ireland (ASTI), rejected the PSSA because it did not fully resolve the new entrant pay issue.

While the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) accepted the PSSA, all three unions are working together to demand there is a full and final end to pay inequality in the profession.

Depending on when they were recruited, the PSSA provided pay equality for large numbers of teachers, including current entrants.

However, it did not fully restore parity for those who started teaching between 2011 and 2014, who were left facing earnings shortfalls of between about €27,000 and €49,000 over their careers.

Teachers may take some comfort from comments made by Education Minister Joe McHugh at the Oireachtas Education Committee yesterday, during a discussion on his forthcoming statement of strategy.

He stated that "we can't have teachers doing same job for different levels of pay.

"There is unfinished business with the unions and the teachers. We have an agreement up to 2020, but it is something I am conscious of as well."

Meanwhile, the European Court of Justice is expected to issue a ruling tomorrow in a case taken by the INTO claiming that two-tier pay scales are unlawful on age grounds.

Irish Independent

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