‘I realised the pay difference meant I would lose €220,000’
Teachers’ pay: Joanne McAndrew, 25, Adamstown Castle Educate Together NS
Joanne McAndrew, Dublin West delegate, at the INTO annual congress in Belfast on Tuesday. Photograph: Moya Nolan
Joanne McAndrew, 25, is a third class teacher at Adamstown Castle Educate Together NS in Co Dublin.
“It took a few years before I realised that I was being paid less than my colleagues for the same work. When I graduated from St Pat’s in Drumcondra in 2012, I spent two years covering maternity and sick leave at home in Mayo.
“It was only when I became permanent that I realised the pay difference meant I would lose around €220,000 over the course of my career. I became more active in the union [the INTO] and we worked hard to push the issue within the media and with TDs.
“We’ve made some progress, and I’m glad that the qualification allowance has been restored, but as things stand I will still be down €100,000 over the course of my career. We still have a two-tier pay structure.
“Since I’ve moved to Dublin, I’ve been living on overdrafts and borrowing money from my parents, and it’s always a struggle to make ends meet with the cost of living being so high. I supplement my salary by teaching extracurricular music lessons. An equal and fair pay structure would go a long way to making life affordable for new-entrant teachers.
“Many of my colleagues have taken job offers overseas, in places such as the UAE and Australia. They can earn more money and there are great benefits including health insurance, free flights and apartments. It’s a great opportunity for teachers, especially those who are younger and perhaps without children, to save up enough money for a deposit or just not have to constantly struggle, just for a while.
“I’ve thought about leaving, but Ireland is my home, and I want to stay and see this campaign through. But Ireland is facing a shortage of teachers; if we want to incentivise them to stay, we need to pay them properly.”