Two of the country's biggest teachers’ unions are split on their attitude towards the new public sector pay deal.
The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) is recommending rejection of the new deal, Building Momentum.
The executive of the union, which represents 19,000 post-primary teachers and college lecturers, took the unanimous decision at a meeting last night. The ballot will be held in the new year.
It confirms a split in teacher union attitudes to the pay proposals.
The other post-primary teachers’ union, the ASTI, has not yet arrived at a formal position but, like the TUI, is disappointed with the terms.
Earlier, the primary teachers’ union, the INTO, announced it was recommending that its members back the deal.
As far as the leadership of the 42,000-member INTO is concerned, the proposals deal with the pay inequality issues that have dogged the teachers’ salary scale for a decade.
As well as the general pay increases for all public sector workers, the deal addresses two-tier pay introduced for teachers at the height of the banking crash.
It provides for new entrant teachers, recruited since January 1, 2011, to skip point 12 of the scale, and to jump directly from point 11 to point 13.
Teachers recruited since 2011 who have already reached point 12 or higher on the scale would move one point further than they would under normal incremental progression.
The INTO says this closes the chapter on inequality in teacher pay scales between those recruited before and after 2011.
However, the ASTI and the TUI see two key areas of unfinished business.
One is for a return to a situation where their members start on the third point of the salary scale, rather than the first, in recognition of second- level teachers taking up to six years now to gain their qualification.
They are also seeking payment of the HDip/P ME allowance to those who started teaching after February 1, 2012.
The allowance, traditionally held by second- level teachers, was axed when allowances were cut for new entrants during the recession.
Between those two issues it is estimated that newer entrants to second- level teaching would be at a loss of up to €80,000 over a career compared with those recruited before 2011/12.
The TUI said it acknowledged and welcomed that the proposals provided for general pay increases, the first for public servants in over 10 years.
TUI president Martin Marjoram said, in taking this decision, the union also recognises the severe financial difficulties caused by the pandemic to so many people.
“However, 10 years on from the imposition of cuts to ‘new entrant’ pay, the union could not recommend acceptance of proposals that would continue to see our colleagues paid lesser rates of pay for carrying out identical work.”
The union blamed the pay inequality for teacher shortages. Mr Marjoran said, 10 years on, the “corrosive effects” of the cut to entrants’ pay was continuing to “damage the education system”.