It is not surprising that the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has taken a strong position on the two-tier pay scale.
This division is unfair and, according to a TUI survey, at the root of the recruitment difficulties facing most secondary schools.
A survey of 120 principals found that many are being hit by a “recruitment and retention crisis”. Almost all schools — 94% — experienced recruitment difficulties in the past six months. More than two thirds — 68% — advertised vacancies, but received no applications.
This trend must be reversed, if our education system is not to be dangerously undermined. That is the strongest argument for resolving this difficulty, but having such an obvious inequity undermining a cornerstone of society can hardly be tolerated, either.
It is not as easy, however, to support TUI calls for “significant pay increases” for all teachers. Inflation stands at a paltry 0.7%, growth is slowing, and the unknown implications of Brexit mean that these demands cannot be met — despite the threat by the TUI to use the looming election to secure promises on increased pay for all teachers.
It is reassuring that one of the most powerful unions in the country should focus on ending a two-tier system. Maybe they might use their influence to end another institutionalised inequity, which afflicts far more people than teacher pay. Maybe they might consider a campaign to end our two-tier pension schemes. The issues, after all, are identical.