The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland heard that newly qualified teachers are treated to an “undignified” introduction to their careers as they travel from short-term job to short-term job in the hope of eventually getting a permanent position.
The union said that, following a series of cuts to new teachers’ pay, a newly qualified teacher who comes into the industry this year will be paid 30% less than what they would have been two years ago.
General secretary of the ASTI, Pat King, pointed out that studies had shown 93% of Irish teachers were on fixed-term contracts while the international average was 59%.
“This lack of permanency is demoralising with so many teachers not knowing where they will be working, or they will be working, next September. I am convinced that no parent would be happy to hear that their child’s teacher is working with such uncertainty.
“The TALIS report [which contained the fixed-term figures] states clearly that short-term damages teachers’ effectiveness and morale.”
Mr King told delegates that union must develop policies that seek to restore the one salary scale structure for all teachers.
“The two-tier gap must be closed and newly appointed teachers must be paid the standard going rate for the job.”
The union reported that about 27% of second-level teachers are in temporary employment. New teachers typically spend up to eight years in temporary and part-time employment before finding a full-time job. Mr King said the issue of a panel system to bring certainty to such teachers had been raised with the Department of Education but was being resisted by school management bodies as it would limit their right “to pick and choose teachers”.
A number of both permanent and non-permanent teachers spoke of the difficulties faced by newly qualified, non-permanent teachers struggling to gain a full-time job.
Agnes Keane of Dublin South said newly qualified teachers are being treated like “migrant workers”.
Noel Buckley was one of a succession of delegates who spoke about the creation “yellow pack” teachers who were treated like third class citizens.
Robert Chaney became emotional while speaking about being six years as a non-permanent teacher, while struggling with negative equity.
Mark Walsh spoke of the “humiliation” of the interview process when he has been in a non-permanent teaching position for the past eight years.
“I’m eight years working and I’m still not permanent. Then you have the humiliation of being asked questions in interviews like: ‘If I was a fly on the wall in one of your classrooms, what would I see?’”