New teaching entrants to earn 30% less than their colleagues

Thu, Feb 2, 2012, 00:00

ALLOWANCES:NEW ENTRANTS to the teaching profession will be earning €10,000 a year less than their colleagues after the Department of Education moved to suspend the payment of various allowances.

The allowances – such as those for third-level qualifications – have been suspended pending a review of allowances across the public sector. The cut has provoked a furious response from new, mostly younger teachers who have already seen their pay cut by 14 per cent in the past two years.

In all, new entrants will earn up to 30 per cent less than those who began teaching two years ago.

The Government signalled a possible 5 per cent cut in all allowances across the public service in the budget. However, the decision by Minister for Education Ruairí Quinn to target new entrants to teaching was unexpected.

About 52 per cent, or more than 30,000 teachers, receive management allowances at an estimated cost of €236 million a year. A teacher with an honours higher diploma (H.Dip) gets an extra €1,200 a year, for example, while a master’s degree attracts an extra €5,500.

The Irish National Teachers Organisation said yesterday that the qualification allowances to teachers were an integral part of salary and pensions. The other payments were for extra work undertaken in schools necessary for their proper running.

It condemned the fact that the decision was announced without any consultation with unions.

In the run-up to the budget there had been speculation that the Government wanted to target these allowances and payments under the teacher supervision and substitution scheme.

However the Croke Park agreement – which promises no pay cuts in return for reform measures – rules out any cuts to teachers’ pay.

The budget did, however, cap the total paid in degree allowances to new entrants. This group is unable to obtain an allowance at a level greater than that applying to those who hold an honours degree. This means that qualifications at master’s or doctorate level will not be paid, and those who hold a H.Dip will not be permitted through any combination of allowances to exceed the allowance payable for an honours degree.

The measure does not affect allowances being paid to existing teachers.

Teachers Union of Ireland general secretary John Mac Gabhann said he condemned the decision to suspend allowances, describing it as “outrageous unilateral action which completely flies in the face of, and shows contempt for, agreed industrial relations procedures”.

The move was a direct attack on frontline services. “What we are seeing here is the unremitting destruction of teaching as a profession. This will have enormous consequences in terms of who will be attracted to the profession.”

Pat King, general secretary of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland, said the department’s move represented “yet another disgraceful attack on vulnerable young teachers who are already facing uncertainty in relation to their employment and whose pay scales have been decimated.

“The manner of this announcement – made without any consultation with the teacher unions who represent 60,000 teachers – demonstrates scant regard for the realities facing young teachers and defies normal consultation practices between the department and unions which have been in existence for decades.”