A breakthrough in securing pay equality for new entrants to primary school teaching has been signalled by the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) after a form of wording has been agreed with Government.
INTO general secretary designate John Boyle said that a “process” had been agreed with the government “finally setting a pathway towards ending pay inequality”.
The move, which will have implications for other public service unions, was conveyed to INTO delegates in private session by the union’s outgoing general secretary Sheila Nunan at its annual congress in Galway on Monday evening. Ms Nunan is vice-chair of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) public services committee.
Minister for Education Joe McHugh, who had agreed there was “unfinished business” on the issue of two-tier pay, is due to address the congress on Tuesday morning.
Reduced salaries and restrictions on allowances for new entrants have dominated teaching union conferences since imposed as an austerity measure eight years ago.
All three teacher unions had warned of industrial action if the issue was not addressed by early May. The Government agreed last year to plans for two increment increases for new entrants under a new public sector pay deal, but teacher unions said this did not restore full equality.
Pay equality for new entrants from 2015 was secured, but the INTO said that it was committed to resolving the issue for the 2011-2014 cohort who faced future losses of up to €19,000.
The INTO says that a wording agreed between the ICTU’s public services committee and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform states that “outstanding matters” on new entrant salary scales will be given “full consideration” either by any pay review mechanism agreed by the parties or in the context of the next round of pay talks”.
Mr Boyle said the “statement of intent by government” acknowledged “the need to find a resolution on pay equality and other outstanding pay issues, either “by way of a pay review process, or in the context of the next public sector pay talks”.
“INTO is confident that today’s announcement provides a pathway to pay equality which will deliver for our 2011 to 2014 cohorts, while enabling us to focus on other outstanding pay issues, including a now twelve-year-old principals’ pay award and a general pay rise for teachers who have not received a pay rise since 2007,” Mr Boyle said.
The development comes as unions representing hundreds of thousands of State employees have signalled a commitment to press for a mid-term review of the current public-service agreement.
Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe has warned unions against seeking “unaffordable” pay increases, and said that public service staff already had terms and conditions that were, “ beyond what is available in many parts of the private sector”.