New teachers to lose €300,000 over pay cuts, TUI warns

Union general secretary John MacGabhann says young teachers treated as ‘galley slaves’

General secretary of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland John MacGabhann said: “We will talk [to the department] but will also carry a big stick.” Photograph: Dylan Vaughan

General secretary of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland John MacGabhann said: “We will talk [to the department] but will also carry a big stick.” Photograph: Dylan Vaughan

 

New entrant teachers will lose about €300,000 over their careers as a result of lower pay levels put in place by the Government for those who entered the profession in recent years, the general secretary of the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) has said.

Addressing his union’s annual conference in Killarney on Tuesday John MacGabhann maintained that young teachers were being treated as “galley slaves”.

The union maintained that young teachers were hit both by lower pay rates introduced in 2011 and the scrapping of allowances for qualifications in 2012.

Mr MacGabhann told delegates that the issue of impoverishing teachers was “inevitably connected to the quality of service to students”.

“Teachers who are subject to very high standards in terms of professional performance cannot afford rents, are being forced – by poverty – to give up part-time jobs, to emigrate, to moonlight. They cannot plan, have no creditworthiness, have their personal independence compromised. Why? Because government marked them out for especially punitive treatment and because employers – who have selected them at interview – treat them as galley slaves.”

He said it would cost money to fix this problem. However, he warned it would cost more ultimately if there were further delays.

“ And that cost will not simply be monetary. It will also be the incalculable cost that will be incurred for society if government action creates a disaffected, angry, impoverished teaching force, if service to students lacks the continuity provided by invested, full-time teachers.”

Mr MacGabhann said TUI would seek fair and sustainable resolution of issues affecting its members.

However he warned: “We will talk but will also carry a big stick.”

Members of the TUI rejected the new Lansdowne Road Agreement on public service pay while the former Haddington Road accord, with the various protections it provides, expires in June. The Government has put in place emergency legislation which contains serious financial consequences for groups who opt to stay out of collective agreements.

Mr MacGabhann said members would given an opportunity in May to determine “what happens next”.

Engagement

He said the union had begun an engagement with the Department of Education in a process which it wanted to see address issues such as as underfunding, understaffing, excessive workload, casualisation and income poverty and appropriate terms of employment.

“If proposals emerge they will be brought back to you, the members, for decision by way of a ballot. The logic of the situation is that were there to be such proposals and were they to be acceptable to members the quid pro quo for the department would be that the TUI would become party to the Lansdowne Road Agreement.”

“On the other hand, if proposals do not emerge or if any proposals that may emerge are unacceptable to members, a ballot for industrial action will be required if the union is to have a mandate to issues directives to cover the post-Haddington Road Agreement situation.”

Mr MacGabhann also maintained that higher education in the institute of technology sector was “in a state of crisis” and that this must be addressed by the next government as a matter of urgency.

“Budgets cuts of 35 per cent, staffing cuts of 10 per cent at a time when students number have risen by 32 per cent, tend to have this effect. The Higher Education Authority recently attempted to suggest that quality has not yet suffered, implying somehow that these cuts are sustainable – even beneficial – not needing to be reversed. If the Higher Education Authority believes this, it is away with the pixies.”

“ The members of this union know that the service they can offer students is suffering, that the experience of students is diminished and that a critical national resource is being shamefully depleted. They know that current workloads are oppressive and intolerable. The incoming government must, as a priority, address this crisis.”