'Very real prospect' of industrial action in all Irish schools from September
THE Government were warned that the prospect of 70,000 primary and secondary school teachers taking industrial action from September will immediately focus minds on pay equality.
The warning came as Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) President Ger Curtin stressed that Education Minister Richard Bruton faces "a very different prospect" of industrial action over pay equality by all three teacher unions rather than just one (ASTI).
"Seventy thousand teachers is a lot of people," he said.
"That would be my take on the prospect."
Mr Curtin stressed that a unified stance by all three teacher unions was "hugely important."
The ASTI, which waged a solitary campaign of industrial action against pay cuts and pay inequality over recent years, will vote on an emergency motion this afternoon to stand with both the INTO and TUI in demanding a pathway to the restoration of full pay equality from May.
Mr Curtin said there is now the "very real prospect" of industrial action in all Irish schools from September.
The ASTI boss warned that pay inequality was now "prompting young teachers to vote with their feet and leave Ireland for work overseas."
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He also said that pay inequality was destroying morale within staff rooms at Irish schools.
"There have been a significant number of young teachers and new entrants to the profession impacted by this," he said.
Mr Curtin said he believed around 20,000 of the 70,000 teachers in Ireland are now impacted, to varying degree, by the pay inequality issue.
"But it is very important that people don't confuse salary with equality," he said.
The ASTI boss said it was misleading to refer to a starting salary of €36,000 for young teachers.
"That is assuming they get full hours and a significant number of young teachers do not get full hours - some of them don't get full hours for a long, long time.'
Mr Curtin acknowledged that the Government estimate around €200 million is required to tackle the pay inequality issue.
But he pointed out that the Government seem to be able to find money for their own priority projects.
"Why are we footing the cost of educating and training these young teachers for the benefit of other countries where they are now going to work."