At their annual union conferences this week, teachers will insist the Government meet its commitment under the Croke Park deal to protect teachers’ pay, including allowances.
Delegates to the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation, Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland, and Teachers’ Union of Ireland gatherings will also be seeking a reversal of cuts to schools and teacher numbers.
Education Minister Ruairi Quinn has repeatedly said he has little choice but to impose cuts to services and school programmes when about 80% of his €8.5bn-plus annual budget is expended on staff pay and pensions. More than 90% of the schools’ non-capital budget goes on pay and about 6% on running costs.
Figures obtained by the Irish Examiner show the averagely paid teacher earns €55,000-€60,000, with a higher proportion of second-level teachers in the higher pay brackets.
More than one-in-three primary teachers and 43% of those working at second level earn at least €61,000 a year.
Just over half of all teachers earn between €41,000 and €61,000 a year, through a combination of salary and various allowances.
Recent figures from Mr Quinn’s department showed the pay of Ireland’s 60,000-plus teachers is boosted by an average €10,000 a year in allowances.
These make up about €600m of the annual teachers’ pay bill of over €3.5bn, and are being reviewed as a public sector-wide review of allowances and additional payments.
Every teacher is paid at least one allowance in respect of their qualifications. They cost over €275m last year but changes to pay for new teachers may see that fall significantly.
However, unions insist all allowances are an integral part of their members’ pay.
Long-serving teachers who work as principals or deputy principals in large schools can earn close to €100,000, with management allowances of almost €40,000-€42,500 paid to principals of second-level schools with more than 40 teachers.
ASTI general secretary Pat King said allowances for principals and other management posts were key to the rate of pay for those jobs.
“ASTI members signed up to and are fully compliant with the Croke Park Agreement which protects their pay,” he said.
“We will consider any reduction in their pay to be a breach of the agreement by the Government.”
A spokeswoman for Mr Quinn said he was aware of the difference between teachers’ allowances as an understood part of their pensionable pay, and allowances paid in other elements of the public sector.
“He is making that case to the review by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform,” she said.