Wednesday 25 April 2018

'Primary teachers' battle for pay equality will continue until we win' - INTO president

Rosena Jordan, president of the INTO
Rosena Jordan, president of the INTO
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

The primary teachers’ union will not give up on its battle for pay equality for new entrants until it wins, the president of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) Rosena Jordan said today.

Pay is one of the main topics on the agenda of the INTO, whose annual congress opened in Belfast today.

Ms Jordan told delegates that “fair pay for teachers is the union’s priority” and while progress had been made,  the issue of pay equality was not fully resolved.

Lower pay scales for teachers were introduced  in 2011 and 2012 and, for primary teachers restoration measures already agreed mean that, from January 2018, they will back to about 97pc of the pre-2011 scale.

While the gap has been much reduced, over a career it amounts to a loss of about €70,000 for a primary teacher.   There is a wider gap, of about 8pc, for post-primary teachers who are also seeking the return of what is known as the HDip allowance, paid to them

Ms Jordan told the conference that “this unequal pay for exactly the same work is neither justifiable nor lawful.

“The great majority of new entrant teachers are young and we believe that it is indirectly discriminatory on the age ground to pay them less for the same work.”

Ms Jordan also hit out at the shortage of substitute teachers available to cover for teacher absences in primary schools.

She said despite almost 2,000 teachers completing teacher education courses last year, she heard about the shortage of substitute teachers in practically every school she visited.

“Every child is entitled to be taught by a fully qualified teacher. That should be the cornerstone for anyone ho ping to build the best education system in the world.”

Yet, she said,  increasingly this was  not the case. “Classes are split, other teachers are asked to provide cover, retired colleagues are cajoled back or enthusiastic amateurs are drafted in.”

The INTO president also called for general cuts to public service pay to be reversed: “The emergency is over. There is no justification in continuing to penalise public servants.  

“The measures imposed by emergency legislation between 2009 and 2015 must be reversed.”

Ms Jordan said there needed to be a road map out of the FEMPI legislation which was acceptable to public servants and the country at large. “This can be achieved through pension levy reductions, pay restoration and engagement with unions on terms and conditions.”

“It’s not rocket science. All teachers have earned a pay rise. All teachers need a pay rise.”

She warned that a staffing crisis would translate into falling standards.

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