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Pressure for pay rises mounts as teachers’ unions announce ballots on possible industrial action

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INTO President John Driscoll

INTO President John Driscoll

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The Government is facing fresh pressure to come up with an acceptable pay offer for public servants as teacher unions announce plans to ballot members next month on possible industrial action.

A meeting of the executive of Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) yesterday gave the go-ahead for a ballot early next month if the Government failed to make “a meaningful offer”.

The Standing Committee of the Association of Secondary Teachers’ Ireland (ASTI) yesterday also decided to ballot members in September on the issue.

The executive of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) is expected to follow suit at a meeting today.

“It is expected that we will ballot members in September on either a revised pay offer or on a co-ordinated public service campaign designed to achieve such an offer,” TUI general secretary Michael Gillespie said ahead of the meeting of his union’s executive.

The teachers’ unions are not alone.

All public service unions are preparing for ballots on pay, demanding an increase to combat spiralling inflation through a review of the terms of their current pay agreement, Building Momentum.

If they do not get an acceptable offer, the unions say there will be a coordinated campaign across the public service but they have not decided on the form of action yet.

At the end of June, the Government offered an additional 2.5pc for the whole of 2021 and 2022, while inflation over the period is more than 10pc.

That was rejected by the unions and there has been no movement since.

The two sides are due back into talks in late August at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) and the outcome of those negotiations will be key. Unions will either be balloting members on a revised pay offer or ballots for industrial action will go ahead.

ASTI president Miriam Duggan said teachers and other public sector workers were trying to cope with hefty cost of living increases, and a significant improvement in pay was “essential to help offset spiralling inflation”.

“It is very disappointing that the Government is showing such scant regard for public servants in light of all they contributed at the height of the pandemic,” she said.

“The Government must return to the WRC with a credible proposal for unions and their members to consider.”

INTO president John Driscoll said any ballot for industrial action would be preceded by a two-week consultation process with members and a full ballot would take place early next month if the Government failed to make a ”respectable offer”.

He said the pay rise was “essential in light of sky-rocketing inflation and the cost-of-living crisis. For five long months, soaring inflation has decimated workers’ take-home pay”.

He said teachers had “waited patiently for their employer, the Government, to take steps to address the enormous financial pressures they are facing”.

The INTO president described the offer made in June as “tokenistic” and was critical of the Government’s failure to engage in a review of the pay terms of Building Momentum since then.

Mr Driscoll said the INTO was “profoundly disappointed” that the talks process had stalled for the last two months, “despite frequent statements from leading Government figures on the need to provide a pay increase for hard-pressed public servants”.

He said a decision to ballot members to seek a mandate for industrial action was “never taken lightly”.


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