Teachers’ union to seek pay increases to tackle soaring inflation

Award needed early in 2024 to make up for losses, according to INTO general secretary

The country’s biggest teachers’ union will today demand salary hikes for teachers in order to protect members’ incomes against high inflation and to tackle a recruitment and retention “crisis” facing schools.

As teachers’ Easter conferences get under way, the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) annual congress in Killarney will hear warnings from union leaders that public sector pay rates are falling behind runaway inflation rates.

Speaking ahead of the conference, INTO general secretary John Boyle said inflation over the duration of the current public sector pay deal since 2021 has been running at about 15 per cent. However, most teachers have had pay increases of between 8.5 and 10 per cent over the same period of time.

Successor deal

He said that the economy has grown significantly over the past year and workers were now entitled to “have a slice of that economic growth”.


“It is our contention that when talks begin, and we hopefully close in on a deal, there will have to be a significant uplift in early 2024; we’re catching up for losses,” he said.

Mr Boyle, a member of the Irish Congress of Trade Union’s influential public services committee, said a successor deal is required with the need to provide an early pay increase to make up this loss of income in real terms.

Public service talks on a replacement for Building Momentum, which finishes at the end of this year, are likely to commence over the summer.

“It will be our job to get the best possible agreement for 300,000 public sector workers, but it will be very different to any other pay deal this century,” he said.

“It is not simply about matching inflation; it is about washing out the terrible damage caused by austerity and coming up with creative solutions on how to attract the best people in the public service.”

He said unions had successfully negotiated backdated pay awards during a review of the current pay deal, though this had been initially opposed.

In the teaching area, he said the INTO will be seeking the restoration of middle management posts to address a “recruitment and retention crisis”, as well as measures to recognise additional qualifications for teachers. These measures will also be needed, he said, to attract teachers abroad back to Ireland.

The annual conferences of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) and the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI), which get under way on Tuesday, will also hear demands for inflation-matching pay increases and measures to make the teaching profession more attractive.

Writing in today’s Irish Times, TUI president Liz Farrell says the availability and affordability of accommodation are having a “massively negative impact” on teaching and underpins many of its problems.

“Too many of our students are experiencing extremely stressful situations, while our members often commute significant distances to their workplaces because of the same accommodation shortages,” she writes.

“Increasingly often, they are back in their childhood bedrooms, if, of course, they are fortunate enough to have this safety net.”

Matching inflation

Ms Farrell writes that more contracts on full hours are needed for teachers upon initial appointment, along with the restoration of middle-management posts.

ASTI general secretary Kieran Christie last week said the union will be at least seeking pay increases that match inflation in the next public sector pay deal.

He said there will also be calls to shorten teachers’ pay scales, which are among the longest in the public service at 27 points.

When asked about Dublin weighting to address the cost of housing in the capital city, he said the union did not have a position on it, with “a variety of views” among the membership.

He noted that there had been “a sorry experience” with pay inequality in recent years and no motions seeking a Dublin weighting had come forward to this year’s convention.

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent