TUI members to take strike action on Tuesday, 4th February over failure to eliminate pay discrimination

By piofficer, Friday, 17th January 2020 | 0 comments

Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) members will take strike action on Tuesday, 4th February over the ongoing failure to eliminate the injustice 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 October, 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, and the Union announced in November that it would take strike action in February unless the matter was resolved.

The Union stated that while its campaign has resulted in progress, those teachers employed after 1st January 2011 will still earn some €110,000 less than longer-serving colleagues over the course of a career. Critically, they will earn over €50,000 less in the first ten years of their career when key life choices are made.

Speaking today, TUI President Seamus Lahart said:

‘We have exhausted every avenue open to us to bring this matter to resolution and have been left with no choice but to take strike action over the ongoing scandal of pay discrimination. 

Regrettably, the commitment made by Minister McHugh last April that the issue of pay inequality would finally be addressed has not been honoured. The approach of the Minister and his Government since then has been to completely ignore the issue in the hope that it would somehow disappear. As our overwhelming mandate for industrial action shows, this short-sighted approach has only served to strengthen the resolve of our members. We are making it clear today that our campaign will continue until pay discrimination has been eliminated.

Discrimination has no place in our schools. Paying colleagues different rates for carrying out the same work is morally wrong and has proved hugely detrimental to the morale of teachers and lecturers.

Service to students has also been damaged, with the two-tier pay system fuelling an ever-deepening crisis of recruitment and retention of teachers in second level schools. A survey of principals carried out by TUI last April found that over the previous six months, 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.

While TUI’s intention had always been to take strike action in February if this issue was not resolved, the date’s proximity to the general election affords our members and their families a focus point to make pay discrimination a key election issue.

In the coming days and weeks, candidates of all political hues should be asked to outline their views on this matter; do they commit to a final ending of this nine-year-old injustice as a matter of urgency?’

Note to editor - What remains to be achieved?

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. Within the first ten years of their career, they earn over €50,000 less. Over a 40-year career, they earn over €110,000 less.

The following measures are required to end pay discrimination:

  • 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 FacilitatorTeacher, Assistant Lecturer etc)
  • Commencement on point 3 of scale in recognition of the six-year (primary degree and PME) unpaid training period 

In addition, the Union has already lodged a claim with the Conciliation and Arbitration Scheme for Teachers on the reinstatement of the HDip/PME allowance to those who started teaching since 2012.

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