Full pay restoration top of agenda as teachers unions open conferences

The restoration of pay for all teachers, and not just those who qualified in recent years, is high on the agenda for three unions, meeting this week.

While some progress has been made for members of two teacher unions who have started on lower pay since 2011, those recently qualified teachers’ growing proportion of the profession means the Government will remain under pressure to put them back on full pay parity.

However, the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) has foregone those partial restorations as it maintains an industrial action campaign in which strikes on the specific issue are currently suspended.

However, the wider issue of teacher salaries and pensions will feature strongly in motions being debated at this week’s three conferences, ahead of the report in the next two months from the Public Service Pay Commission.

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe has already signalled the purse-strings will be tightening but the first motion to be debated at the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation congress in Belfast tomorrow morning — immediately after Education Minister Richard Bruton addresses delegates — demands a fight for pay rises. The executive committee proposes a campaign to demand full reversal of pay cuts and the re-establishment of full pay equality for teachers.

A mandate for action up to strikes will be sought by a motion that looks for full restoration of middle-management posts and changes to how principals’ salaries and allowances are calculated.

Mr Bruton will not be addressing ASTI delegates because of timetabling difficulties but will attend its annual convention dinner in Killarney tomorrow night.

The union is already in dispute on a number of fronts, besides the pay equality issue, with Mr Bruton’s department, and will soon ballot members for possible strikes over the threat of small numbers of redundancies in secondary schools.

On the conference floor, delegates are expected to pass a motion earlier tomorrow which would see the union strongly oppose any pay deal that does not achieve full pay equality, set a firm timeline for the restoration of pay cuts, and repeal the financial emergency laws used by recent governments to impose further cuts on ASTI as it remains outside the last public pay agreement.

Pay increases for teachers and lecturers at all career stages will also be demanded at the Teachers’ Union of Ireland congress in Cork.

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