Teachers plan to challenge lower wage rates for new entrants
TEACHERS are planning to challenge cuts to pay levels for new entrants to the profession, claiming that they discriminate against younger teachers.
The pay for teachers getting their first job in 2011 is 14pc lower than for those who started in previous years after salary reductions across the public service.
The new teachers are appointed on a scale of €30,000 to €34,000, which is up to €6,000 below the 2010 figure.
The Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO) claims this amounts to discrimination on age grounds.
Although difficult to prove, the union has received legal advice that "there is a reasonable prospect of mounting a successful challenge".
The INTO is preparing to take a case to the Equality Tribunal on the grounds that the vast majority of people likely to be affected by the move are younger public servants.
A union spokesperson said it was hitting teacher graduates who have mostly found employment from September 2011.
The only person, or persons, who can front such a challenge are those directly affected.
The INTO said it had "several expressions of interest" from young teachers about the issue and is confident that some would be interesting in fronting the case.
But there is a large queue of cases to be heard at the Equality Tribunal and, according to the INTO, it may not come to hearing for about two years.
The INTO now intends to lodge the claim "as soon as possible" to ensure that it does not fall foul of the rules about submitting within a certain timeframe.
Separately, the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) is also considering similar action.
A TUI spokesperson said it had sent correspondence to their legal advisors to see if the cut could be challenged as discriminatory under age or any other grounds.
"We remain gravely concerned by a situation that allows two teachers or lecturers doing the same work to be paid from different pay scales," said a TUI spokesperson.
The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) said it would consider a legal challenge, although it has not taken legal advice at this point as no member has made such a request.
It could throw a spanner in the works of the savings that underpin the EU/IMF bailout, which include reducing the public service annual paybill by €1.2bn between 2010-2014.
The starting rates for new public servants has suffered an additional 10pc cut on top of the general public sector pay reduction and pension levy introduced in 2009-10.
There was a further 4pc penalty for teachers when a tradition of starting on the second point of the pay scale was ended. From this year, they start on the first point.
Whatever the outcome from the Equality Tribunal, it is likely that the losing side would appeal to the courts.
The Department of Education said it had no comment to make on the matter.