Primary teachers set to reject draft pay deal

Pay equality between established and new teachers emerges as key issue for profession

Primary school teachers are expected to reject the draft public service pay agreement in a ballot due to be completed on Thursday, in what would be a significant blow to the Government.

The executive of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) – the country’s largest teaching union – has urged its members to oppose the deal on the basis that it did not progress the issue of pay equality between established teachers and new entrants.

Sources close to the 36,000-strong union believe members are likely to reject the proposed agreement, which was negotiated last month between the Government and the public service trade union movement.

The counting of ballots is scheduled to be completed on Thursday evening or Friday morning.


Last week, senior State employees in the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants became the first group to back the proposed new agreement in a ballot. Under the terms of the proposed deal, about 250,000 State employees will receive pay improvements of between 6.2 per cent and 7.4 per cent over three years

A further 50,000 civil and public service staff recruited since 2013 and who have a less generous pension scheme will receive pay improvements of 7 per cent and 10 per cent over the same period.

The deal sets out that there will be an assessment of the overall pay equality issue over a 12-month period from next January.

Post-2011 cuts

However, the INTO executive argued the proposed agreement did not progress the issue of pay equality between teachers recruited in recent years and those who were taken on prior to cuts to earnings introduced after 2011.

If the INTO rejects the proposed deal, the Government will watch carefully to see whether the union agrees to be bound by the majority decision on the deal of the overall public service committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions – the umbrella body for groups representing personnel across the public service.

The deal requires the backing of a majority of public service staff for it to come into effect.

The Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) and the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI) have also urged their members to reject the proposed new deal. However, TUI and ASTI members will not ballot on the proposals until the autumn.

Unions representing teachers have argued that, despite some measures put in place by the Government over recent years to bridge the pay gap between those appointed before and after 2011, a sizeable difference still remains.

Minster for Education Richard Bruton has said the bill for introducing pay equality for teachers and other education and training staff would be about €85 million.

Mr Bruton told the Dáil last week that various measures taken by the Government meant it had gone about 75 per cent of the way towards restoring pay equality for teachers appointed since 2011.

Government sources say the deal offers a “generous” starting salary of more than €37,692 for new teachers from October 2020 onwards.

One source said if pay parity was fully restored, starting salaries for new teachers would rise to €41,511 for a primary school teacher and €43,879 for a secondary teacher.

Mr Bruton has said pay reductions for post-2011 entrants to the public service were applied to all public servants and not just teachers.

“Any restoration of these measures in respect of teachers would be expected to be applied elsewhere across the public service,” he said.



The rough size of the pay gap between new entrants and those recruited before 2011 when the new public service pay agreement expires in 2020.


Agreements to date have restored three-quarters of the difference in pay for new teachers, and deliver full equality at later points in the pay-scale.


Current starting salary for new entrant teachers.


New starting salary for new entrant teachers when the draft pay agreement expires on October 1st, 2020.


Estimated starting salary for a primary teacher if there was full equalisation of pay scales.


Starting salary for a secondary teacher if there was full equalisation of pay scales.


The cost of delivering pay equality for teachers, though the knock-on costs would be multiples of this amount, according to the Government.

* Source: Department of Education figures

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien

Carl O'Brien is Education Editor of The Irish Times. He was previously chief reporter and social affairs correspondent