Low-paid teachers to get €1m in backpay

Over €1m in backpay will be paid by the Department of Education to up to 2,000 teachers over the next week — almost two years after revised salaries were agreed.

Low-paid teachers to get €1m in backpay

The changes for those who joined the profession since 2011, and whose pay scales will remain below that of more experienced teachers, were to have come into effect from November 2013 under a concession secured by unions in the Haddington Road Agreement (HRA) six months earlier.

However, the department will only this week apply the appropriate increases to 1,000 primary teachers, and a week later to hundreds of second-level teachers.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) estimates that members who started teaching in September 2011 and have been in constant employment since May be owed almost €900.

The detail was finalised by the department last July but its payroll has not been able to calculate the impact for all effected teachers until now.

It was previously prioritising the payment of salary increments to school staff, which were delayed for at least three months under the HRA. Problems with externally-supplied software meant 25,000 teachers and other workers received backpay just over a month ago that was owing since December.

The difficulties of pay and job security for recent graduates are high on the agenda at all three conferences this week. In his address last night, INTO president Seán McMahon said the union had made progress on bridging the pay gap between those who started since 2011 and their colleagues, but the operation of three pay scales is an insult to the principle of equal pay for equal work.

“The Government decided to introduce discriminatory and inequitable pay scales for new teachers in Budget 2009,” he said. “The INTO opposed that decision then, continues to oppose it now, and will overturn it, no matter how long it takes.”

Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) president Gerry Quinn said there was a casualisation crisis in the profession, which has only been partly addressed by recent measures approved by Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan following an independent report for her department.

He said that while it should mean earlier entitlements to security for teachers on rolling contracts, the most effective way to address the problems facing graduates is to make initial appointments on a permanent basis.

“Before the recruitment of additional staff, hours that become newly available must, in justice and in logic, be given to existing part-time staff,” said Mr Quinn. “This mechanism should be mandatory and directed by the Department of Education.”

The union says at least 30% of teachers work on a part-time basis, but this rises to half for those aged under 30, and many struggle to meet even the most modest financial commitments.

The concept of equal pay for equal work is the subject of the first pay motion at TUI’s annual congress beginning in Wexford today. Mr Quinn said teachers would be allowed to develop viable careers if those with minority subjects could be employed across a number of schools in the same area.

“Where once teachers and lecturers applied for full-time permanent positions, for several years now they have been applying for fragments of jobs with no guarantee of being retained from year to year,” said Mr Quinn.

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