Move to abolish two-tier pay for teachers to receive ‘full consideration’

Minister for Education says there is ‘unfinished business’ on new entrant pay

Minister for Education Joe McHugh has pledged that moves to abolish two-tier pay scales for teachers will be given “full consideration” by the Government over the coming months. Photograph: Alan Betson

Minister for Education Joe McHugh has pledged that moves to abolish two-tier pay scales for teachers will be given “full consideration” by the Government over the coming months. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Minister for Education Joe McHugh has pledged that moves to abolish two-tier pay scales for teachers will be given “full consideration” by the Government over the coming months.

In a speech to the annual congress of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation in Galway, Mr Mc Hugh acknowledged there was “unfinished business” and issues of “outstanding concern” that remain to be addressed.

Teachers’ unions argue that those hired since 2011 continue to face financial losses over the course of their careers compared to their longer-serving colleagues.

Mr McHugh said that, on foot of a statement agreed between the Government and public sector unions on Monday, that these issues will be given “full consideration” in either an upcoming pay review or in the context of the new round of pay talks.

The Government has never before indicated publicly there could be any such move.

The current public service pay agreement is scheduled to run until the end of next year with negotiations on a subsequent accord likely to commence in about a year’s time.

The Minister’s speech to the INTO, met with warm applause from delegates, included pledges to slow down reform, boost capitation rates for schools and provide greater administrative leave for schools.

Restoration

On capitation, he said restoration of funding to schools will be a key priority in the upcoming Budget.

Mr McHugh acknowledged these rates – which were cut during the economic downturn – were the “bread and butter” of schools.

He also announced a new programme to help make Irish more relevant to children by using the language to teacher other subjects such as PE.

“Seeing young people socialising and playing and having fun in a language is as good a test as there is of how vibrant and alive a language is. Through actions like this we can support our young people to connect with our language and own it,” he said.

Responding the Minister, the incoming INTO general secretary John Boyle said Mr McHugh had show a “keen understanding of the challenges teachers and principals face” and “empathy towards our student teachers.”

However, he added: “Listening is important but action is imperative.”

Mr Boyle said teachers recurited between 2011 and 2014 must be paid equally to everyone else.

While he said it was heartening to hear the Minister accept there is “unfinished business” on pay inequality, he said pay inequality must end in the next public service pay deal.

INTO delegates at congress this afternoon supported a motion highlighting a “clear pathway which will achieve pay equality for all teachers”.

Cuts

Speakers highlighted the cuts that teachers took as a result of emergency legislation and the fact that teachers have not received a pay increase in 14 years.

Earlier, Mr Boyle also said pay equality between primary school and secondary schools leaders must be dealt with in the coming pay deal.

“Much to our shame as a country, principals in similar sized primary and post-primary schools have always been treated very differently,” he said.

“There’s nothing surer than equality for primary school leaders will be the next battleground for INTO.”

He added that school teachers generally have not received a pay rise since 2007 and are not due one before 2020.

In the meantime, he said there has been inflation of 7 per cent, along with pay cuts and loss of allowances.

“The incomes of teachers have simply failed to match the rising costs of living in that time. If money can be found for certain public servants by your government half way through your own agreement, I believe that money can be found for all public servants before 2021,” he said.