Teachers’ union calls for ‘Dublin allowance’ on top of salary

Talks on a new public sector pay agreement set to start before summer

The country’s biggest teachers’ union has backed calls for an extra payment to compensate for higher living costs in Dublin and other urban areas.

An additional payment for people working in more expensive areas has traditionally been resisted by trade unions unwilling to draw a geographic distinction between their members and also because of the practical challenges of implementing any such decision.

The motion, debated in a private session at the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation annual conference on Wednesday, is understood to have noted that public sector pay has lagged behind inflation rates, resulting in an erosion of living standards and difficulties recruiting and retaining teachers.

It instructs the union’s executive to negotiate for an allowance for teachers, similar to the London weighting allowance in the UK, which compensates for higher living costs.


Minister for Education Norma Foley has previously played down calls for such a move on the basis that new entrant teachers in Ireland earn more – about €42,000 on full-time hours – than new entrant teachers in London.

Senior political and official sources played down the chances of the Government agreeing to a “Dublin allowance”, but noticeably did not absolutely rule it out.

Some senior sources were sceptical that such an allowance could be restricted to some workers, but others acknowledged the case for the move.

Meanwhile, it is expected that preliminary talks on a new public sector pay deal are likely to begin before the summer as the Government and public sector trade unions eye a successor to the existing agreement, concluded last autumn, which expires at the end of this year.

In a statement, the Department of Public Expenditure said it would engage with unions to “discuss all matters in the coming months with a view to negotiating a successor to the current pay agreement”.

Sources say the Government is likely to be in no hurry to start talks, as inflation is falling, weakening the unions’ case for big pay increases.

But unions are facing pressure from their members. The Teachers’s Union of Ireland conference in Cork will consider emergency motions on both pay and housing on Thursday with 26 branches backing a call for the rejection of any new public sector pay deal that does not include above-inflation raises.

The motion argues that the real earnings of most TUI members were cut by 4.2 per cent last year and suggests they will be cut again this year.

The motion calls for “the executive to demand that any pay agreement contains increases in excess of inflation and to recommend rejection of any new pay deal that does not do so”.

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy

Pat Leahy is Political Editor of The Irish Times

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

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times