Quinn defends reductions in new teachers' salaries
MINISTER FOR Education Ruairí Quinn has said he is “neither complacent nor smug” about the differences emerging in teachers’ pay.
He was rejecting Opposition criticism of the reduced salaries paid to new teachers.
“I am fully aware of their potential impact, over time, on the teaching profession,” he said.
Mr Quinn said the Government had decided the payment of allowances for the basic qualifications required for entry to the profession was no longer appropriate or necessary. They went back many years to when a distinction was made between teaching colleges and university qualifications.
The Government’s view, he added, was that the allowances held by serving staff were clearly part of pay and withdrawing them would be a breach of the Croke Park agreement.
Mr Quinn said he had to find €77 million in savings to meet the targets set in the memorandum of understanding to which the Republic was committed by the previous administration.
Mary Lou McDonald (SF) said a young teacher lucky enough to start his or her career this month would earn just over €27,000, almost €12,000 less than a teacher recruited in 2010.
“Decisions that target the profession of teaching make no sense on any level,” she added.
Charlie McConalogue (FF) asked how Mr Quinn planned to operate an education system that would need 3,000 new teachers at primary level in the coming years to deal with population growth.
“How will he operate a system which pays these 3,000 teachers salaries which are far lower than what their colleagues receive?” he asked.
Mick Wallace (Ind) said a two-tier system would be created in schools. “A new teacher who starts on a salary of approximately €30,000 after training for four years could earn more by pushing a wheelbarrow,” he said.