Sunday 15 September 2019

Teachers union warns Education Minister it's 'losing patience' as strike threat looms over pay demands

Education Minister Joe McHugh. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
Education Minister Joe McHugh. Photo: Niall Carson/PA
John Boyle of INTO
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Teachers unions are ramping up pressure for a final deal to end two-tier pay scales.

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) is preparing to ballot members next month to refresh a two-year-old mandate for industrial action, including strike.

The Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) says it is “losing patience” over a commitment made last April to a review that would give “full consideration” to outstanding pay inequality matters.

The Association of Secondary Teachers’ Ireland (ASTI) also pointed to the lapse of time since the April promise, as well as recent pay developments in the wider public service

While teachers, like other public service workers, are benefiting from post-austerity pay restoration measures, salary inequality persists between those employed before and after 2011.

TUI president Seamus Lahart said that in September 2017 TUI members gave the union a mandate for industrial action, up to and including strike action, as part of the campaign for pay equality.

He said while progress had been made in the campaign to end pay discrimination, a gap remained.

“The process must now be completed and this injustice conclusively addressed,” he said.

He said new entrants to second-level teaching were being paid 14pc less on initial appointment and 10pc less in the first 10 years than they would have before the introduction of cutbacks.

Meanwhile, the INTO’s executive committee, which met this week, warned that the delay in progressing the review promised in April was undermining confidence in a negotiated resolution to remaining inequalities.

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John Boyle of INTO

INTO general secretary John Boyle said “four months later our members are still waiting for detail on the scope and timeline of any review.”

He said his members had taken “in good faith the commitments made by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh” and would be “frustrated that they return to school this year without clarity on the nature of the proposed review”.

Earlier this year, INTO held off balloting its members on industrial action so it could see what was going to happen.

The ASTI has also held off on balloting, awaiting developments, but its general secretary Kieran Christie said “immediate action was needed” to deliver on the April commitment.

“A number of months have passed since Government commitments were made regarding a review of the outstanding issues surrounding new entrant pay.

“In addition, in recent months a number of other developments have taken place regarding wider public sector pay issues. It is now clear that the Public Service Stability Agreement is no longer viable as it stands and a review is imperative,” he said.

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