Entrants to teaching get salary rise but lose key benefit


NEW ENTRANTS to teaching are expected to get an increase in starting salary – but forfeit a key qualification allowance – under proposals that will be considered by Cabinet next week.

Under the plans, the starting salary for teaching could increase from €27,800 to about €30,000 – but entrants will lose their right to a qualification allowance. This has been worth about €4,500 annually to a teacher with a honours primary degree in education.

While entrants to teaching are being targeted, some €506 million paid in allowances to existing teachers will not be cut, under the new proposals.

Allowances for newly appointed nurses are also likely to be hit as part of the reforms, as well as rent allowances paid to gardaí.

The provision under which civil servants who act as private secretaries for ministers keep a percentage of their allowances indefinitely after they finish in that post is also likely to be abolished under the reforms.

Teacher unions have warned that any cuts to allowances for established teachers would be regarded as a breach of the Croke Park deal on public service pay.

The proposals for entrants will see the creation of a new pay scale for entrants to teaching. They will no longer be part of the 25-point incremental scale used for all other teachers.

The proposal is likely to be contentious in the education area as it formalises a two-tier pay structure in teaching, one for established teachers and one for entrants.

Sheila Nunan, general secretary of the Irish National Teachers Organisation, last night described the proposal as a pay cut for new teachers which was “unacceptable and unfair”.

The Government has already targeted entrants to teaching by suspending the payment of allowances. As a result, entrants to teaching this week will earn about 30 per cent less than their colleagues who secured permanent jobs as recently as 2010.

Newly appointed teachers earned more than €39,000 in salary and allowances in 2010 but this remuneration has dropped to €27,800 this year.

The entrants have been targeted by the Department of Education as part of a review of the €506 million paid in allowances to teachers last year.

Earlier this year, Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn moved to reassure teachers their allowances would not be cut when he acknowledged they were currently considered part of their pay.

Teachers have warned that any cuts to allowances will be regarded as a breach of the Croke Park deal. However, entrants to the profession do not enjoy the protection of the Croke Park deal, which in return for modernisation measures guaranteed no pay cuts or job losses.

The teacher unions say allowances are an integral part of salaries, reflecting extra work, additional skills and further qualifications.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin, is expected to bring the proposals arising from a review of allowances paid to staff in the Civil Service, health service, education sector, local authorities, Garda Síochána and the Defence Forces to the Cabinet on Tuesday.

The proposals have been circulated to other Ministers for their observations.

About 800 allowances are paid to staff across the public service, at a cost of €1.5 billion. At the end of last year, Mr Howlin signalled he wanted these examined.

The Government had hoped to generate savings of €75 million on its spending on allowances for public service staff this year.

However, the review was originally scheduled to be completed last February and the delay is likely to mean the extent of the savings will be significantly reduced this year.

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