Wednesday 23 May 2018

Teachers demand allowance on top of pay rises

'If the teachers' demand was entertained, it would almost certainly trigger knock on claims by other unions for the restoration of other allowances' (stock photo)
'If the teachers' demand was entertained, it would almost certainly trigger knock on claims by other unions for the restoration of other allowances' (stock photo)

Anne-Marie Walsh and Katherine Donnelly

New teachers are demanding that they get back an allowance worth over €1,000 that was axed, on top of pay rises at government talks.

Sources at talks on reversing a two-tier pay in the public service revealed their unions insisted the restoration of a €1,236 hDip allowance must be part of any final package.

They also sought a return to a practice in which recruits would start on the third point of the incremental pay scale, rather than the bottom.

The demands were made at discussions in the Department of Finance yesterday on the reversal of €200m in pay cuts suffered by over 60,000 recent recruits since 2011.

Unions are demanding that the government begin reversing the pay cuts in the next budget.

It is understood that the return of the hDip allowance would cost an extra €9m, as it has not been paid to around 8,000 recruits since it was abolished.

The allowance, which was axed when allowances were cut for new entrants during the recession, is counted towards their pensions. Unions are arguing it is essentially core pay.

But sources said government officials were adamant that only basic pay will be discussed at the talks.

Demand

If the teachers' demand was entertained, it would almost certainly trigger knock on claims by other unions for the restoration of other allowances.

Sources said officials from Minister Paschal Donohoe's department gave no indication there will be any concession on new entrants' pay in the next budget. But arriving for the talks, chief union negotiator Shay Cody said he was "optimistic" that the government will shift its position.

"We've no assurances," he said. "But the fact that we're talking gives grounds for some optimism."

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe's department has been urged to "stand firm" on the demands, even if it means damaging industrial unrest.

Employer group ISME warned the minister not to "repeat the mistakes of past".

The current wage agreement says the equal pay issue should not lead to any hike in costs beyond €889m allocated for pay increases until the end of 2020.

However, union sources said extra funds could be ring-fenced to address it in the next budget despite this clause.

Irish Independent

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