Primary school teacher union to urge rejection of pay deal

INTO opposes public sector deal over ‘inadequate’ provisions for lower-paid teachers

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation joins the  Teachers’ Union of Ireland in recommending rejection of the pay deal

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation joins the Teachers’ Union of Ireland in recommending rejection of the pay deal

 

Primary school teachers look set to reject the proposed public sector pay deal under which 300,000 State employees would see an increase of between 6.2 and 10 per cent over three years.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) said it is to recommend a rejection of the deal to its 36,000 members who will be balloted next week.

Its announcement follows a similar decision by the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) who said it would recommend its members reject the deal due to “wholly inadequate” provisions addressing lower pay for new-entrant teachers.

The Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) has signalled its “extreme disappointment” at the proposals while gardaí too have raised question marks.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA), the organisation representing rank and file members , said there can be no foregone conclusion that the terms of the agreement would be acceptable to its members.

In a statement on Friday, the INTO executive said its decision to recommend a rejection was based on the “failure of the proposed agreement to progress the issue of pay equality”.

‘Progress to date’

“Notwithstanding progress to date on pay equality, the recent pay talks were an opportunity to draw a line under pay discrimination and right a wrong imposed on new entrants since 2011,” general secretary Sheila Nunan said. “The agreement has failed to signal an end to pay inequality imposed by Government on recent entrants.”

Ms Nunan said the INTO had attempted to make progress on the issues of pay restoration and equality, the protection of pensions and the payment of the “long-standing pay award” to primary principals.

“While there has been some progress in these talks, there has not been tangible progress on pay equality,” she said.

The leadership of the ASTI is also understood to be opposed to the terms. The union will hold a special convention on Saturday debating a motion to suspend its long-running industrial action over the current Lansdowne Road pay agreement. Sources say controversy over the new deal means it is less likely that the union will drop its campaign.

However, the Government has defended the proposed terms on the basis it would provide a “generous” starting salary of more than €37,692 for new teachers from October 2020 onwards.

Pay parity

One source said if pay parity was fully restored, starting salaries for many new teachers would rise to almost €44,000.

“These kinds of starting salaries would be well in excess of what is available in any other sector,” the Government source said.

The proposed deal was drafted after 13 days of talks between worker representatives and Government negotiators. It comes with an anticipated bill of about €880 million but, crucially, it requires the ratification of trade union members, a process unlikely to conclude until the autumn.

Under its terms, about 250,000 public sector workers would receive pay rises of 6.2 to 7.4 per cent. A further 50,000 staff recruited since 2013, who have a less generous pension scheme, would receive pay improvements of 7 per cent and 10 per cent over the three-year period.

The draft deal, which is a continuation of the Lansdowne Road agreement, would see about 23,000 State employees such as gardaí, who have faster-accruing pensions, benefiting the least.