Speaking to delegates at the second day of the ASTI annual conference in Cork, general secretary of the union Pat King directly accused a backbench Fine Gael TD of “maliciously” fuelling a belief that teachers are highly paid in terms of allowances.
“This misunderstanding has been maliciously fuelled by a number of government backbench TDs including one particular Fine Gael TD who was a primary school principal up to a few years ago.
“Teachers are paid an agreed rate for the job. That is the rate for which they sign their contract.
“This rate includes a qualification allowance... To talk of teachers allowances as perks or bonuses is utter and malicious nonsense,” said Mr King.
Last month, Fine Gael’s Jim Daly, a former primary school principal, published figures outlining that primary and post-primary teachers have been paid some €2.5bn in allowances since 2007.
He called for a debate to see if savings could be made in this area.
Also at the conference, delegates voted overwhelmingly to condemn what it says is the targeting of the pay and conditions of teachers appointed since Jan 2011.
The union also pledged to campaign to have such pay cuts rescinded and also committed to supporting claims to the Equality Tribunal that this pay cut amounts to discrimination.
The ASTI general secretary also fired a shot across the bow of Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, who addressed the ASTI conference yesterday, reiterating that any cuts to teacher allowances would be a breach of the Croke Park Agreement, which would force the union to ballot its members.
“Teachers have given their fair share and do not need to be lectured to about the state of the economy.
“When teachers decry the impact of education cuts on their schools and students, it is not because they don’t understand the gravity of the fiscal crisis, it’s because they understand that targeting education and targeting young people exacerbates the crisis in the long run.”
Mr King said teachers had consistently taken “massive pay and pension cuts” which had led to huge savings for the State.
“New teachers are now starting on salaries that are 25% to 30% lower than three or four years ago. 20% to 25% of teachers are employed in temporary and part-time positions.
“We have agreed to a redeployment scheme whereby hundreds of primary and second-level teachers have been redeployed.
“The 33 extra hours have given an 1.8m working hours to the State. These hours have been valued at an estimated €100m.”