Monday 9 December 2019

Teachers to strike over 'unacceptable injustice' of two-tier pay scales

(stock photo)
(stock photo)
Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has announced a one-day strike in February as part of its campaign to end two-tier pay scales in teaching.

The timing of the stoppage – the date for which has not been announced – is clearly aimed at pumping up pressure ahead of the general election.

Teachers' unions will also want to report progress to their annual conferences, which take place at Easter.

The union has 19,000 members in second-level schools, colleges of further and adult education and institutes of technology/technological universities, all of which will affected.

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Salary cuts were imposed after the financial crash and, while much progress has been made in closing the pay gap between teachers employed before and after January 2011, a divide remains.

The biggest gap occurs in the early years of employment, with new entrants to second level teaching on 14pc less initially and 10pc less in the first 10 years than they would have been before the imposition of the two-tier pay system.

It is compounded for second-level teachers, many of whom do not secure a contract of full hours upon initial appointment, and are paid only a fraction of the whole-time salary.

In a ballot last month, TUI members voted by a margin of 92pc-8pc to engage in a campaign of industrial action, up to and including strike action, on the issue.

At this year’s teacher conferences, Education Minister Joe McHugh promised that the issue of pay inequality in the education sector would finally be addressed by Government.

But TUI president Seamus Lahart said "several months on, the silence of Government on this unacceptable injustice remains deafening".

He said pay discrimination had “severely damaged the profession, ripping the morale of staff to shreds and making teaching less attractive to the best graduates".

Mr Lahart said it also “greatly contributed to the deepening crisis of recruitment and retention of teachers in our schools”.

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