In May 2018, representatives of the public service unions, including TUI, again met with officials from Government departments, led by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) regarding pay equality.
From the outset, TUI insisted that full pay equality, including, in the case of teachers, the reinstatement of the HDip/PME allowance, must be achieved.
TUI has made clear the urgency of the situation and expressed the union’s frustration at the slow pace of the discussions. This sense of frustration and serious concern was reiterated by the Union’s Executive Committee.
The outcome of the discussions, when available, will be put to a ballot of members. We would anticipate that this will be early in the 2018/19 school year.
TUI already has a strong mandate for industrial action on this issue, up to and including strike action. If activation of this mandate is required, every effort will be made to co-ordinate any such industrial action with our sister unions.
While pay equality has not yet been achieved and unacceptable discriminatory pay rates still apply, some progress has been made. Most significantly, as a result of the September 2016 agreement between TUI, the INTO and the Department of Education and Skills, the full value of the Honours Primary Degree Allowance (€4,918) was restored to salary for post-2011 teachers in two halves on 1/1/17 and 1/1/18.
At its worst, the gap between the pay rates of those who entered the profession before 2011 and those who entered from 2012 on stood at around 30%. Progress has been made, but as a result of the remaining inequalities below, there is an average difference of 11% in the gross pay rates of a pre-2011 and post-2011 teacher. However, any gap is unacceptable.
- Teachers who commenced employment before 2011 were paid on a 25-point scale. In addition, most second level commenced employment on the third point of that scale. Those who commenced employment after 1st January 2011 are paid on a 27-point scale and most commence employment on the first point. This unacceptable situation must be reversed.
- Those who commenced teaching before February 2012 are paid the HDip in Education Allowance (value €1,236). This allowance (the HDip/PME allowance) has to date not been paid to those who commenced teaching on or after 1st February 2012. That is unacceptable and discriminatory.
We would estimate that in the region of 35% of the Union’s membership is paid at a lower rate than longer-serving colleagues for carrying out the same work. It is important to note that irrespective of whether they are personally affected by pay inequality, TUI members are completely united in demanding its end as a matter of urgency. This is evidenced by the priority the issue has received at a succession of TUI Congresses and by members’ rejection of the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA) in a national ballot last year.
From a TUI perspective, this injustice to some is an offence to all members. A determination to bring this injustice to an end unites, rather than divides, us.
Pay discrimination has seriously undermined the profession and has had a devastating impact on morale in staffrooms.
A March 2018 TUI survey of post-2011 entrants found that 46% do not believe that they will still be in the profession in ten years’ time. If pay equality was restored, 94% said that they would remain. Strikingly, 52% said that they would not advise a younger relative to pursue the profession of teaching.
Meanwhile, there has been a fall of over 50% in the numbers applying for places on the PME postgraduate teacher education courses between 2011 and 2018 - from 2,821 to 1,366. There has also been a fivefold rise in the emigration rate of teaching graduates.
Unsurprisingly, pay discrimination has also led to widespread difficulties in the recruitment and retention of teachers, which inevitably impairs the quality of service to students in terms of subject choice and consistency of provision. Recruitment problems are evident both across the country and across a broad range of subjects including, but not limited to, Modern Languages, Mathematics, Science, Irish, Home Economics and the technologies.
At third level, some Institutes of Technology have reported difficulties in recruiting staff at Assistant Lecturer entry grade. In a number of cases, advertisements in key disciplines have not attracted any applications and the posts have had to be re-advertised.
In another significant finding of TUI’s recent survey, just 22% of new entrants to teaching received a contract for full hours in their first year of teaching. The stark effect is that they earn just a fraction of the starting salary that is so often referenced. Moreover, they get their first teaching post at an average age of 26, often saddled with debt after six years of study. This treatment of recent entrants is a disgrace, an indictment of the shoddy employment practices that have become a feature of the system in recent years. The TUI has demanded the eradication of this culture of casualisation. It impoverishes teachers, drives them out of the profession and it damages the quality of the service available to students.