Wednesday 20 November 2019

Government divisions emerge over calls to restore pay to country's teachers

Teachers the ASTI convention in Killarney, Co Kerry
Teachers the ASTI convention in Killarney, Co Kerry

Daniel McConnell and Majella O'Sullivan

There are divisions within Government ranks over fresh calls to restore pay cuts to the country's teachers, it has emerged.

Labour TDs, in a bid to court public sector voters, are keen to deliver "as much as possible" on those calls ahead of the general election - but Fine Gael TDs last night poured cold water on the matter.

Waterford TD and Public Accounts Committee vice-chairman John Deasy told the Irish Independent that it would be unthinkable to award pay rises to one sector of society ahead of another.

He said any deal to increase pay must include private sector and public sector workers. "If there is a windfall, it needs to be spread among both private and public. Not one or the other," said Mr Deasy.

ASTI general secretary Pat King said it was the union's job to row back each pre -Haddington Road pay cut and levy, and to close the gap between the different teacher salary scales.

Speaking at his union's conference in Killarney yesterday, Mr King also warned of a further "exodus" if remuneration for all public servants was not as attractive as other sectors of the economy.

"Otherwise there will be a further exodus from the public service and we will find it increasingly more difficult to attract good people into teaching, nursing and the gardaí," he said.

"This is already happening at primary level where the CAO points came down last year.

"We're still attracting the high flyers in teaching and a lot of new entrants have Master's degrees. If you tie lower pay in with the whole issue of low morale among teachers, it will become less and less attractive to go into teaching.

"That's all very well in the middle of a recession, but when jobs open up, people will go elsewhere rather than teaching," Mr King added.

Teacher Keith Howley (25) qualified in 2012 and said that he earns 10pc less than some of his colleagues. He teaches maths and biology at Pobalscoil Neasain in Baldoyle. "It is unjust and there should be parity of pay and there should not be three different pay scales for teachers," he said.

"It's disgraceful they can expect a teacher to come in and do the exact same job but not be given the same entitlements or the same job prospects."

Maths and Religion teacher at Pobalscoil Neasain, Therese Glennon, described the situation as "unacceptable".

"Keith works just as hard as I do and yet we're on unequal wages and that's not acceptable at all," she said.

Irish Independent

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