Siobhan Peters, a Tipperary branch delegate and a member of the standing committee of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI), joined the teaching profession in 2011 but earns €5,000 less than her 2010 colleague and is five points behind him on the pay scale.
Siobhan, who was speaking to a motion, overwhelmingly carried, at the ASTI annual convention in Cork yesterday, said she did not expect pay parity overnight, but she would like a timeline. She wants the campaign for equal pay to “bear fruit before the end of the school year”.
Siobhan was one of several delegates who spoke to the motion that effectively puts a May deadline on reaching a resolution on the issue of equal pay, in the absence of which ASTI will ballot members for strike action. Since 2011, new entrants to teaching are paid less than their pre-2010 colleagues, following the introduction of a two-tier pay scale.
Edward Byrne, ASTI immediate past president and Fingal branch member, said “action, or the threat of action, is what makes gains and not simply sitting on our hands”.
Mark Walshe, Dublin North East branch, said the pay gap between pre-2011 and post-2011 graduates was 50% to 70% for secondary school teachers in the first 13 years and 30% to 50% for the first 13 years in a primary teacher’s career.
“Up to now, the ASTI has been doing all the heavy lifting. I hope the other unions step up,” he said.
Andrew Phelan, Dublin North West, said action planned in the event of no progress on equal pay, “should have been taken years ago”. He said industrial action was “not easy” and meant “sacrifice and pain, money out of your wages, living on the bread line”.
Quoting Benjamin Franklin, Richard Terry from Fermoy said: “We must all stand together or we will surely hang together.”
In relation to teachers being on a starting salary of €36,000, delegates heard the average wait for a full-time teaching job was five to 10 years and that some teachers had to hold down a second job to make ends meet.
Teachers also voted for a motion calling for parity of expected pension benefits for secondary teachers who had to join the Public Service Pensions Scheme when it came in in 2013. Prior to that, teachers joined the Secondary Teachers’ Superannuation Scheme. Under the latter, pensions were based on final salary, but under the new scheme, pension is based on a career average.
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