Saturday 18 November 2017

New tax levy proposed by teachers' union to add more than €550m per annum to education sector

TUI general secretary John MacGabhann. Photo: Tommy Clancy
TUI general secretary John MacGabhann. Photo: Tommy Clancy
Ralph Riegel

Ralph Riegel

A SPECIAL corporate tax levy of one per cent has been proposed by the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) to add more than €550m per annum to the Irish education sector.

TUI general secretary John MacGabhann warned that adequate funding for the education sector was now of paramount importance.

Mr MacGabhann outlined proposals for the levy at the opening of the TUI's 50th annual conference in Cork.

"The TUI has made a serious proposal that a one pc levy should be applied to corporation profits in order to generate a dedicated fund for higher education.

"These corporations benefit hugely from having available to them a very deep pool of graduate talent in this country - supplied courtesy of the Irish tax payer.

"In 2015, the levy would have yielded some €550m - an investment that would have done very nicely indeed in terms of resuscitating the exhausted and gaunt figure that is the Irish third level education system."

Mr MacGabhann argued that such a levy is also fair given that it provides corporations "with an opportunity clearly to demonstrate what they they claim to have but what is little in evidence - a commitment to the society in which they base their enterprise".

The TUI general secretary also warned the Government that major progress needs to be achieved on pay equality and tackling casualisation within the education sector in Ireland.

Mr MacGabhann pointed out that, thanks to the TUI stance, the union was able to negotiate from July 2016 an improvement in the pay of those who entered teaching after February 1 2012.

TUI members have been covered by the terms of both the Lansdowne Road and Haddington Road pay deals.

"This goes some but not all of the way towards bridging the pay gap between those appointed in 2011 and those appointed since February 1 2012.

"It is an important step but it is not the full distance," he warned.

The union official warned that the Government will be asked to deliver further on tackling pay inequality in forthcoming pay talks.

He also warned that teacher unions will not tolerate casualisation within the education sector.

"After a long hunt we have captured a target of real significance to teachers in the mandatory mechanism and sequence for allocating new posts and hours.

"As a result of this, members in part time positions will see their hours and their pay increase.

"It has offended our sense of justice, has been a rough stone in our shoe, that for many years past the work of teaching and lecturing was being casualised.

"That casualisation commenced before ever there was an economic implosion as many employers took with feral glee, gusto and salivation to issuing fixed term, part time contracts, fracturing jobs and robbing teachers blind."

The TUI boss said the union fully recognised that the trend had to be tackled head on.

"The TUI has campaigned to neuter the beast that was loosed," he said.

Under a new agreement, the filling of posts and hours is now set out under mandatory regulations.

"Lest there be anybody in management whose vocabulary is confined to single syllable words, mandatory means that it must be done," he warned.

"There is no opt out - there are no ifs, buts or - to move to two syllables - maybes."

But Mr MacGabhann warned that union members had to work to ensure that every hour which arises is offered, in the first instance, to an existing suitably qualified teacher who is on part time hours.

He also warned that the stability of the education sector requires teachers who have fair pay and working conditions.

"Motivation through fear may work briefly but fear quickly converts to resentment," he said.

"The undisputed fact is that, at all levels, funding has been very severely cut and that at third level the cuts have been deepest and most damaging."

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