Primary school teachers have said they will enter into “constructive dialogue” with the Government on pay issues before triggering a ballot for industrial action.
At a meeting on Friday, the central executive committee of the primary school teachers’ union INTO decided to attend a meeting with the oversight group for the public service committee.
The union said this meeting would “enable a discussion on outstanding pay equality issues”.
“The central executive committee reaffirmed its commitment to a ballot on industrial action in the event that upcoming engagement fails to address outstanding pay equality issues for those who entered the profession from 2011 to 2014”, the INTO said.
The union said recently-appointed teachers would continue to sustain substantial financial losses under proposals put forward by the Government last autumn to deal with the two-tier pay issue.
In a ballot in October, members of the INTO voted against the Government initiative on new entrant pay by a margin of 53 per cent to 47 per cent. The turnout was 55 per cent.
The union said on Friday that over the coming weeks, the INTO would “ramp up its member engagement at Branch and District meetings, preparing the membership for a forthcoming ballot on industrial action”.
It said the central executive committee would meet again on February 7th to assess developments.
INTO General Secretary, Sheila Nunan, said: "We remain open to a constructive dialogue with Government, who have acknowledged the ongoing financial inequalities facing newer entrants to the profession.
"INTO have agreed to attend an oversight meeting with the Department of Finance next week and will continue our campaign activities across Government. However, we will also begin preparations internally to hold a ballot for industrial action should a commitment from Government not be forthcoming.
“Minister McHugh acknowledged that the current proposal from Government left those earlier entrants behind. Government must take this opportunity to commit itself to delivering equal pay for this group in the next public sector pay agreement if it wants to avoid a campaign of industrial action.”
In September, the Government tabled proposals to end the system of those recruited since 2011 receiving lower pay than longer-serving colleagues by allowing those affected to catch up by jumping two increments on their pay scale over a number of years.
The Government estimated the initiative would cost nearly €200 million by the time the process was completed in 2026.
Under INTO rules a ballot for industrial action must pass by a two-thirds majority.
Last month members of the country’s largest secondary teachers’ union, ASTI, also narrowly rejected Government proposals to address the controversial two-tier pay system in a ballot.
The move comes as nurses and midwives are expected to announce details of planned strikes in the coming days over pay and recruitment and retention difficulties.
Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) voted overwhelmingly before Christmas in favour of strikes.
The INMO has indicated that it is planning a series of 24-hour work stoppages in hospitals as part of a campaign of industrial action. The union’s executive is scheduled to meet on Monday and Tuesday to decide on the dates for the planned strikes.
The executive of the PNA is also scheduled to meet to set out its plans for industrial action next week.