TUI's ongoing campaign for pay equality

Teachers and lecturers to take strike action in February - 18th November 2019

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





TUI members overwhelmingly endorse mandate for industrial action over pay discrimination - 10th October 2019

Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) members have voted by a margin of 92% to 8% to endorse the Union’s mandate for industrial action, up to and including strike action, as part of the campaign to end pay discrimination.

TUI has once again highlighted the damage inflicted on the education system by pay discrimination. The Union is frustrated by the Government’s inaction on this critical issue and is calling for real engagement from Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh.

The ballot result makes clear that members are united in solidarity with new and recent entrants and are prepared to take industrial action should the process of pay equalisation not be completed in the near future.

Speaking this evening, TUI President Seamus Lahart said:

‘Yet again this year, a new cohort of teachers has entered the profession being paid at a lesser rate than their longer-serving colleagues for carrying out the same work. Progress has been made in this campaign, but our members have run out of patience with the Government’s failure or unwillingness to complete the process of pay equalisation. 

This ballot result makes clear that TUI members, regardless of career stage, are united on this issue and are willing to take action, up to and including strike action, unless further progress is made without delay. Minister McHugh should take heed of our resolve.

The largest differences in pay between those employed before and after 1st January 2011 still occur 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 introduction of cutbacks. It must also be remembered that most new entrants to teaching do not secure a contract of full hours upon initial appointment, many earning just a fraction of the whole-time salary. In addition, they are commencing their career at an average age of 26 – almost always in precarious, temporary posts.

Politicians across the political spectrum, including those in Government, have spoken of their commitment to restoring the principle of equal pay for equal work. This has yet to be translated into practical action. With a general election in the offing, members of TUI will be making this a key issue.

We are not looking for preferential treatment for these teachers – we are simply looking for justice, for all teachers to be treated equally.’

The damaging effects of pay discrimination on teaching and learning

‘Pay discrimination is the single greatest cause of the crisis of recruitment and retention in schools across the country. A survey of principals in a sixth of the country’s second level schools carried out by TUI in April 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. Several weeks into the new academic year, there is already strong evidence that these difficulties are worsening.

Once again, we urge the Minister to engage constructively with us.’

Note to the editor:

What remains to be achieved?

  • Elimination of the remaining differences in the early points of scale
     
  • 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

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