One in four teachers working for education and training boards (ETBs) are on the lowest pay scales, because their careers have only begun since 2011.
The 2,634 lower-paid teachers (LPTs), among 10,500 in the 16 ETBs’ 241 second-level schools, exceed the 2,224 in the much larger number of other second-level schools.
Between 370 religious-owned voluntary secondary schools and 96 community and comprehensive schools, LPTs accounted for just one in eight of the teaching population of 17,816 at the end of the last school year.
Overall figures for the country’s 4,000 primary and second-level schools show that 10,300, or 16%, out of 63,831 teachers employed during the last school year, were LPTs.
The proportion is just higher than the 15% represented by 5,410 LPTs, among 35,500 employed at 3,250 primary schools.
ETB-employed teachers, who are twice as likely as others working in second-level to be LPTs, are mostly represented by the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI). The union also has a significant number of members working in the community and comprehensive (C&C) sector, where teachers may be members of TUI or the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland.
Within the ETB sector — vocational schools and community colleges — there is also a wide variation.
The proportion of teaching staff who are LPTs ranges from just over 1%, in Donegal and Tipperary ETBs, to over one-third in the Dublin-Dun Laoghaire, Cork, and Waterford-Wexford ETBs.
TUI general secretary John MacGabhann said the figures may reflect the demographics and location of vocational schools and community colleges run by ETBs.
“The growth in population has been more pronounced in places like greater Dublin, and commuter areas around Cork and Waterford” he said.
“In those places, most additional school places, and most new schools, have been in the areas traditionally served by ETBs.”
“Areas where newcomer populations, like international students, are living also tend to be where ETBs operate.”
Evidence of the “blatant unfairness” of the situation could be found in every primary and second-level staffroom in the country, and not just in those where TUI members work, said Mr MacGabhann.
The data is based on responses by the Department of Education and the 16 ETBs to requests, under freedom of information (FOI) law, in relation to teachers paid or employed by them at the end of the last school year.
The FOI requests asked for numbers employed on the pre-2011 pay scale, the scale introduced in 2011, and the third scale, in place from 2012, when new entrants to teaching were further disadvantaged by the removal of allowances paid to longer-serving teachers in recognition of their qualifications.
The data might not include teachers on casual work arrangements, and the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation said the figures for primary teachers might even underestimate the scale of what it described as “low-pay discrimination”.
“Many teachers are working abroad, where salaries better reflect their training and skills, but the figures provide an insight into the scale of unfairness caused by government cuts to new entrant pay,” a spokesperson said.
“The financial emergency is over, and there is no justification for continuing with unfair and unequal pay scales.”
Teacher is battling inequality
The figures were collated in a series of requests under freedom of information (FOI) law by a low-paid teacher to the Department of Education and the 16 ETBs.
Although he has got a full-time job, he joined the profession after 2012 and so is on the lower of three pay scales currently operating for teachers, depending on when their careers began.
“I am really lucky that my subject is in high demand so I have full-time work,” said the teacher, who did not wish to be named.
“But there are others who are working just 10 to 12 hours a week in Dublin and Cork, for lower rates than other teachers. And I genuinely don’t know how they are affording to live or pay for accommodation,” he said.
Both the Teachers’ Union of Ireland and Irish National Teachers’ Organisation have firmly rejected the recently-agreed Public Service Stability Agreement, with the absence of a commitment to restore full pay equality during its 2018-2020 lifetime a key factor in their leaders recommending rejection.
The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland members have not yet voted on the deal, but its members are also being urged by the leadership to vote against acceptance.
However, the INTO and TUI are set to enter discussions that are now to commence next month with the Government over addressing pay inequality issues, bringing forward part of the deal that need not have taken effect until 2018. Last week, the public services committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions decided in an aggregate vote of public sector unions to accept the deal, which also includes elements of phased pay restoration and protection of pensions.
The low-paid teacher who obtained the figures under FOI said he was not in favour of the agreement.
“I’m never going to accept a pay agreement that will not give me full pay equality. I do the same job as everyone else and I should be paid at the same rate,” he said.
“The Government can afford them, there’s no doubt about it,” he told the Irish Examiner.
Education Minister Richard Bruton has said his 2018 budget would have to find savings in areas like special education or tackling disadvantage if the Government were to pay the €250m required to restore equal pay across the public sector. The cost in the education sector alone would be €80m a year, but the savings from teachers and other education workers since 2011 have so far topped €230m.
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