Monday 22 January 2018

Two-tier salary scales in public sector must go, says Ictu boss

Patricia King: 'varying pay rates an untenable situation' Photo: Mary Browne
Patricia King: 'varying pay rates an untenable situation' Photo: Mary Browne
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

Two-tier salary scales in the public sector have to go, Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) general secretary Patricia King said.

Having a multiplicity of pay rates for the same work was a regressive concept and untenable on an ongoing basis, she said.

It is a key issue for ­newly-qualified teachers who are entering the profession on lower pay scales than those who started before 2011.

As part of austerity-era cuts, the starting salaries for ­graduate teachers dropped 21pc.

Over a career, the lower salary scales mean a loss of €100,000 for newly-qualified teachers, when compared with their more senior colleagues.

New teachers now start on a salary of €30,702. From September, this will increase by €796 to a total of €31,498 and again in September 2017 by €796 to €32,294. In September 2009, a typical teacher started on €40,730.

Cuts have also led to the wiping out of thousands of career opportunities for young teachers, because of a moratorium on promotions.

Demands for equalisation of pay and conditions with more senior teachers is a key topic for discussion at the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) conference today, as well as at the conferences of the ­second-level unions.

In her address to delegates last night, Ms King said she wanted to be "exceptionally clear" to the incoming Government about speeding up the unwinding of FEMPI legislation, the mechanism used by the Government to cut public sector pay.

The Ictu general secretary said apart from the pay inequality between workers, two-tier rates led to industrial disharmony and resentment in workplaces.

And from a staff planning point of view, it was not progressive and would result in young professionals much more likely to exercise career options.

She said that with school enrolments rising, it could lead to teacher shortages.

Ms King said she was not talking about a "public sector gravy train" but a "normal, healthy organisational, structural activity which encourages performance and provides opportunity to progress".

INTO president Emma Dineen also signalled a warning on pay. She said if the economy continued to prosper over the next few years, public servants in general and teachers in particular would want to see pay cuts suffered by all teachers restored.

Ms Dineen said most young teachers, especially in Dublin, have little or no hope of buying a house on a teaching salary.

"If our society values our teachers, we need government to pay them a wage they can live on."

And she said the issue of pay equality for newer entrants was a priority: "The incoming government must commit to pay equality for new teachers."

Irish Independent

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