Ireland’s leading teachers’ union is balloting members for strike action.
The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) will ballot its 18,000 members next month, for action up to and including strike action, over what it calls “pay discrimination”.
The ballot will run from mid-September to early October.
Speaking today, TUI president Seamus Lahart said the group were renewing their mandate for industrial action.
“Progress has been made in the campaign to end pay discrimination, but a gap remains,” he said.
“The process must now be completed and this injustice conclusively addressed.”
The biggest differences in pay are between those employed before and after January 1 2011.
The union says new entrants to second level teaching are earning 14% less on initial appointment and 10% less in the first 10 years than they would have before the introduction of cutbacks by the government.
“This two-tier pay regime is a cynical, damaging discrimination, resulting in situations where colleagues are paid at different rates for carrying out the same work,” Mr Lahart added.
“It must also be borne in mind that 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. In addition, they are commencing their career at an average age of 26.
“We are not looking for preferential treatment for these teachers – we are simply looking for all teachers to be treated equally. Needless to say, they are fully supported by longer-serving colleagues in this campaign for justice and equity, which remains TUI’s key priority.
“Those affected by this injustice are rightly frustrated at the slow pace of progress. For the sake of teachers and students, equal pay for equal work should be restored as a matter of urgency.”
The union also says the crisis in teacher supply is directly attributable to this Government’s policy of the pay differences for new entrants.
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.
The union is now calling for the elimination of the remaining differences in the early points of scale and commencement of recognition of the six-year unpaid training period.
- Press Association