Tuesday 18 June 2019

Strike fears as teachers reject wage hike deal

Warning: The INTO’s Sheila Nunan says members unhappy. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins
Warning: The INTO’s Sheila Nunan says members unhappy. Photo: Gareth Chaney, Collins

Anne Marie Walsh and Conor McCrave

Primary schools may face strikes after teachers rejected a government deal to end two-tier pay in the public service.

Members of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) have voted by a narrow majority of 53pc against a package that meant recent recruits would get pay hikes worth €3,300 each.

There was a 55pc turnout. The deal means those who were hired over the last seven years on lower pay would catch up with their longer-serving colleagues.

They would move up the pay scale from next March by skipping increments on their pay scales. However, there will be no back-pay.

The teachers face a nine-month delay in pay rises and increment if they take industrial action.

If the primary teachers go on strike they face the prospect of delayed pay rises due under the current pay deal and a freeze on increments.

In a statement, the union said the vote demonstrates the commitment of its members to secure pay equality.

It said the proposed agreement left several new entrants from 2011 onwards paid less than their colleagues.

The statement said the membership has sought to stand in unity with their colleagues in demanding full restoration.

Its central executive committee will meet next week to consider the result and a forthcoming ballot on industrial action.

"Notwithstanding progress to date on pay equality, the proposed agreement by Government failed to signal an end to pay inequality for all new entrants," said INTO general secretary Sheila Nunan.

"Acting in solidarity with their colleagues who are paid less for doing the same job, our membership has signalled that they will not stand for any agreement which leaves them in a similar position."

Last week, the TUI was the first of the teacher unions to deliver a verdict on the proposal. The ASTI is due to give its verdict on the Government package next month.

All three teacher unions put the proposals to ballot without a recommendation.

Meanwhile, onsite repairs are under way at five of the 42 schools cleared to reopen after structural inspections were carried out.

The five schools include Tyrrelstown Educate Together National School and the adjoining St Luke's National School in Dublin, as well as Gaelscoil Eiscir Riada in Lucan, which were closed as a result of the structural issues identified in the walls of school buildings.

Two other schools, Scoil Chaitlín Maude in Tallaght and Castlemills Education Centre in Balbriggan, will also reopen following external works to the building walls.

Education Minister Joe McHugh said: "I am pleased with the progress being made on the programme of initial assessments.

"I appreciate that parents, pupils and staff are keen to hear results from inspections at schools and the Department is confident that once further analysis is carried out by engineers and consultants we will be in a position to confirm decisions in the next day or two."

Irish Independent

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