New teachers 'not getting equal pay for doing equal work'
Newly qualified teachers are being "insulted" with pay scales that are 20pc below the rates of older colleagues, according to the president of the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO).
Sean McMahon denounced the ongoing pay disparity between more recent graduates and experienced teachers and said it was repugnant to the principle of equal pay for equal work. Cuts in pay for teachers - in common with other public servants, as a consequence of the economic crash - has reduced starting salaries to about €30,000.
The proportion on lower salaries is growing all the time, with high retirement levels and now about half of primary teachers are under-35.
Mr McMahon said the Government could not defend separate salary scales for teachers doing the same work.
"The Government decided to introduce discriminatory and inequitable pay scales for new teachers in Budget 2009. The INTO opposed that decision then, continues to oppose it now and will overturn it, no matter how long it takes."
Speaking to the INTO annual conference, he said the country's economic problems were not caused by young people and it was completely unfair and unacceptable to have the price of one generation's recklessness loaded onto another.
Mr McMahon also addressed the issue of teacher employment, latest enrolment figures for the current school year show that 125,000 primary pupils are in overcrowded classes of 30 or more.
He said hundreds of teacher graduates were available for work in Irish schools to reduce overcrowding.
"Many have been forced to emigrate, but would return if there was a chance of decent employment in Ireland."
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil's education spokesperson has warned that failure to act on spiralling class sizes will result in a major deterioration of education outcomes.
He called on the Government to commit to reducing "unacceptably high" class sizes in the next Budget.
"There is absolutely no doubt that children stuck in these super-sized classrooms are suffering a lower standard of learning despite the very best effort of teachers," said Mr McConalogue.
He said the best teacher in the world was powerless to create an optimum learning environment with so many pupils of varying standards, needs and interests.