The Department of Education said last night that the aim is to conclude by early next month the talks it has been engaged in with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) and Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO).
Its statement followed TUI president Joanne Irwin’s warning that the union’s second-level members might be forced to activate a mandate for industrial action in the absence of resolution on the key issue of pay of recent entrants to the profession.
The talks are taking place in the context of a settlement of an issue around allowances for firefighters.
There is a focus on teachers who entered the profession since February 2012 without an entitlement to qualifications allowances paid to longer-serving colleagues, a pay differential of up to 20%.
While all sides have reported progress, Ms Irwin and INTO general secretary Sheila Nunan said a clear timescale was needed to implement the results of talks, which could see payments in respect of qualifications incorporated into basic salaries for post-2012 teachers who will begin another year on significantly lower pay than others.
The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) remains outside the discussions as its members are seen by the Department of Education as having rejected the Lansdowne Road Agreement, under which talks with the INTO and TUI are being held.
ASTI officials met the department last week on the issues behind its directive that members should no longer work the extra 33 hours a year previously worked under the now-expired Croke Park and Haddington Road agreements, and plans are being made for further meetings.