Members of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) will take a day’s strike action in February – at a date to be decided – over the ongoing failure of the Government to eliminate the scandal of pay discrimination. The Union represents some 19,000 members in second level schools, colleges of further and adult education and Institutes of Technology/Technological Universities.
In a national ballot last month, TUI members voted by a margin of 92% to 8% to engage in a campaign of industrial action, up to and including strike action, on this issue.
The decision was taken by TUI’s Executive Committee, which said that the Union’s efforts to bring the matter to conclusion have been frustrated by Government inaction. The Union remains open to meaningful engagement with a view to resolving the issue fully.
The Union stated that its campaign has resulted in progress on the matter, but that those teachers employed after 1st January 2011 will still earn some €110,000 less than longer-serving colleagues over the course of a career.
Speaking this afternoon, TUI President Seamus Lahart said:
‘At the teacher conferences last April, Minister McHugh indicated clearly that the issue of pay inequality in the education sector would finally be addressed by Government. Several months on, the silence of Government on this unacceptable injustice remains deafening.
Pay discrimination has severely damaged the profession, ripping the morale of staff to shreds and making teaching less attractive to the best graduates.
It has also greatly contributed to the deepening crisis of recruitment and retention of teachers in our schools. A survey of principals carried out by TUI this year found that over the previous six months, 94% of schools experienced teacher recruitment difficulties, 68% of schools advertised positions to which no teacher applied, while 47% of schools had unfilled teaching vacancies. In practical terms, this means that many schools are not in a position to offer the full range of subjects and levels. For example, it was reported last week that the Department of Education and Skills has evidence that many schools will be forced to reduce access to modern languages due to difficulties recruiting qualified teachers.
Clearly, pay discrimination against new and recent entrants has a significant, detrimental effect on the service provided and options available to students.
The largest discrimination still occurs in the early years of employment, with new entrants to second level teaching earning 14% less on initial appointment and 10% less in the first 10 years than they would have before the imposition of a two-tier pay system.
To make matters worse, many new entrants to teaching do not secure a contract of full hours upon initial appointment, earning just a fraction of the whole-time salary.
Recent entrants struggle to pay rent and meet other financial commitments, with some – the lucky ones – subsidised by family in the early years of their career. For the majority, saving enough for a deposit for a home of their own is already unrealistic aim. These people are voting with their feet and leaving the profession.
As always, we are open to meaningful engagement on these issues, but the inaction shown by the Minister, the Department of Education and Skills and the Government does not bode well.’
What remains to be achieved?
- Elimination of the remaining differences in the early points of scale for ‘new entrant’ grades (Teacher, Assistant Lecturer, Youthreach Resource Person, BTEI Adult Educator, Adult Guidance Counsellor/Co-ordinator, Adult Literacy Organiser and Community Education Facilitator)
- Payment of the HDip/PME allowance to those who started teaching since 2012
- Commencement on point 3 of scale in recognition of the six-year (primary degree and PME) unpaid training period