19,000 TUI members taking strike action today
19,000 members of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) in second level schools, colleges/centres of further and adult education and Institutes of Technology/Technological University Dublin are taking strike action today over the continuing injustice of pay discrimination.
The Union today said that it is making clear to all political parties and general election candidates that its campaign on the issue will continue until pay discrimination is finally eliminated. Last autumn, TUI members voted by an overwhelming 92% to 8% to engage in a campaign of industrial action, up to and including strike action, on this issue, with the Union signalling in November its intention to take strike action in February.
Speaking today, TUI President Seamus Lahart said:
No ‘honeymoon period’ for new Government
‘19,000 striking TUI members are sending out an unequivocal message today to all politicians who are members of parties that aspire to being a part of the next Government – our campaign will continue until the discriminatory two-tier pay system, unilaterally imposed in 2011, is finally abolished. What is a complete injustice under one Government will continue to be a complete injustice under a new Government, and we expect immediate action on its elimination. There will be no ‘honeymoon period’.
Our resolve has strengthened
We have exhausted every avenue open to us to bring this matter to resolution. The overwhelming mandate given to us by members to engage in a campaign of industrial action shows that the resolve of teachers and lecturers on this issue has strengthened. The clear message from our members is that they have been patient long enough and that our actions must now escalate. It is worth highlighting that the majority of TUI members are not personally affected by pay discrimination – they are striking in solidarity with the ever-growing proportion of colleagues who are affected. It is also worth highlighting that contrary to some public comment, longer-serving members did not ‘sell out’ younger colleagues. Pay discrimination was unilaterally imposed by Government.
TUI campaign for pay equality
TUI has led the campaign for pay equality. Our members at third level took strike action on this and other issues exactly four years ago, in February 2016, and further strike action planned at second level and in further education was lifted when TUI secured meaningful negotiations. These negotiations led to the incorporation of the Honours Primary Degree allowance into salary. However, despite further gains since in terms of the removal of two points from the longer ‘new entrant’ scale, the silence of Government since Minister McHugh’s commitment last Easter that the issue would finally be addressed has left us with no choice.
Pay discrimination is hugely demoralising for new and recent entrants, who earn significantly less than their colleagues, particularly in the early years of their career. At second level, a teacher employed after 1st February 2012 earns 14% less on initial appointment and 10% less over the first ten years of their career. In money terms, this amounts to over €50,000 at a time when they most need the money.
Pay discrimination damages the service to students
We regret any inconvenience caused to students and their families today, but a continuation of pay discrimination risks inflicting further damage on the education system. The findings of a survey of principals second level schools last week show that almost four in five schools have advertised positions for which no teacher applied, while over half have unfilled vacancies due to recruitment and retention issues. This teacher supply crisis is unprecedented and risks causing irreparable reputational damage to our education system. Most importantly, the crisis is severely impairing the service to students. In some schools subjects are being dropped; in others continuity of teaching service cannot be guaranteed.’