TUI warns pay inequality will not be tolerated
THE Teacher's Union of Ireland (TUI) warned the Government that while moves to increase pay for young teachers is welcome and overdue, ongoing pay inequality will not be tolerated.
TUI General Secretary John MacGabhann warned delegates at their annual conference in Killarney that the Government must realise that teacher unions will not tolerate pay inequality under any circumstances - and will now campaign for pay hikes for the education sector which has been chronically under-funded for the past decade.
"Having two scale points removed is important, both for the uplift in pay that it provides to new entrants but also because it brings the new entrant scale back to 25 points," he said.
"Of course, the measure does not secure pay equality and, needless to say, there is palpable and acute frustration that government still seems to harbour the ambition of avoiding the establishment of pay equality between new entrant teachers and those who entered the profession before 2011."
"Let government be advised - that ambition is futile and obsolete. The TUI will not tolerate pay inequality. We will secure pay equality. Our commitment to that end is unwavering. Our campaign continues."
The TUI has now warned the Department of Education that the period of unpaid pre-service training must be restored and that special education allowances must be paid to those who entered service on or after February 1 2012.
"The remaining differentials between the early points of the pre-2011 and post 2011 scales must be bridged," he warned to cheers from delegates.
Mr MacGabhann said the government must appreciate the clear link between pay inequality and the current teacher supply crisis in Ireland.
"We have joined the dots, clearly and compellingly, to demonstrate the causal relationship between discriminatory pay rates and precarious, part-time employment on the one hand and the evident crisis in the recruitment and retention of teachers on the other."
"The TUI refused to endorse the displacement activities and choreographed dissembling at the stakeholders’ seminar on teacher supply in late November."
"This extravaganza of mini-measures, one less convincing than the next, illustrated the dangerous folly of treating the symptoms rather than the disease."
"The net product of the super-charged Steering Group established by the Department and its panoply of portentous committees was a risible advertising campaign to woo qualified teachers back to Ireland - launched precisely as we were arguing trenchantly against a perverse Departmental view that permanent appointments cannot be made other than during a total eclipse of the sun."
The TUI official warned that across the country, in a wide and broadening range of subjects, schools are struggling – indeed failing - to find teachers.
"Service to students is suffering. The refusal of the DES and government to recognise this obvious and manifest reality is reckless stupidity."
He warned that the mandate for industrial action must be renewed - to mobilise again around the principle of pay equality.
Furthermore, he stressed that teachers now need pay increases.
"Our economy is not in recession. It is growing. Living costs are increasing. The next pay negotiations therefore must provide significant pay increases."
"The general election that may well precede those negotiations must be used to secure the commitment of political parties to such increases. In the first instance, this is a matter that we will consider jointly with our sister teacher unions."
The campaign for pay increases will, he warned, be fought alongside an opposition to tax cuts.
"The corollary of tax cuts is diminished public services, inadequate staffing, curtailments in supports, a reliance on privatisation. No matter what your party political affiliation, you cannot with credibility claim to support both tax cuts and better public services," he said.
Mr MacGabhann urged the department and government to consult with trade unions and expert sectoral groups on proposed changes.
"We know and the wise know that consultation work. It worked in relation to Junior Cycle and we have a structure – the Implementation Committee – that recognises its centrality.
It worked - and is working - where consortia have sought to secure technological university status."
"Conversely, failure to consult with the TUI means that changes mooted will be regarded with justifiable suspicion, will not win approval, will not happen.'
"A touchstone issue in this regard will be the review of Senior Cycle. It is certain that there will be an abundance of ideas that will range from good to daft and a super-abundance of advocates and zealots for those ideas."
"Given past experience, it is likely that efforts will be made to marginalise the teacher union voice."
"Let me state unequivocally now that any such efforts will fail. Teachers, acting through their unions, constitute not just another constituency."
"Teachers constitute the critical constituency without whose support reforms if attempted will founder. The TUI will demand – and we will get – the necessary, robust structures. We will not be consigned to the side-lines, given usual suspect status, focus-grouped. We will be at the heart of things."
The TUI official warned that investment in the education sector was now desperately needed.
"Our public education system provides a service of high quality, in spite of the ravages of cuts and neglect."
"However, that quality cannot be sustained indefinitely on short rations and thin stir-about. Our schools, centres, institutes and Technological Universities needs significantly increased public investment as a matter of urgency."
"Technological University or Institute of Technology is an empty, ironic title if infrastructure is inadequate, facilities are run-down, students are denied key supports and services that should be the norm and lecturers are over-burdened.
Schools shorn of posts of responsibility are not in a position to provide the academic, pastoral and social support structures that official public policy blithely assumes to be in place."
"Staff without the means to make a decent living, subsisting on low hours at the economic margins cannot be expected to provide systemic stability when employers and government deny them the stability of full-time permanent employment."
"Our education system needs a significant infusion of investment. Budget 2020 must deliver, because Budget 2019 assuredly did not. As a union and as individual, concerned citizens we must impress upon our politicians, of every stripe, that failure to invest is not an option and that refusal to invest will be punished."