Primary teachers vote to accept Lansdowne Road pay deal

INTO ballot carried by 65% to 35% but other teacher unions set to oppose agreement

Primary school teachers have voted to accept the Lansdowne Road Agreement on restoring public sector pay by a margin of nearly two to one.

The result of the ballot of 34,000 Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) members, announced on Thursday afternoon, was 64.7 per cent in favour and 35.3 per cent against. The turnout for ballot was 16,300 (48 per cent).

It is the first public sector union to return a ballot result on the deal.

The executive of the primary teachers' union had recommend acceptance, unlike its counterparts in the secondary teacher unions the ASTI and the TUI.

Both of these are due to hold ballots in the autumn.

In a statement, the INTO pointed out the threshold for the pension levy would increase twice under the Lansdowne Road deal in 2016 resulting in a €1,000 earnings increase for most full time primary teachers. The agreement will also bring about a €1,000 increase in gross pay in 2017.

The agreement also provides for the restoration on salary scales of a supervision and substitution payment abolished under the Haddington Road deal and the restoration of the pay to those earning more than €65,000.

Substantial contribution

INTO general secretary Sheila Nunan said: "INTO members have made a substantial contribution to Ireland's recovery.

“With the economy improving it is right that primary teachers begin to see their incomes restored. This Agreement is an overdue restoration of some of the income teachers lost.

“Crucially it also provides a vehicle to pursue the outstanding salary award to primary principal teachers. This award was made in 2008 but never paid to primary principals.

“At a time when school leadership is under such pressure it is important to keep alive a mechanism to pay a proper salary for the job.”

She added that the payment of a flat rate increase which benefited lower paid teachers was an important part of the deal.

New entrants

A key objective for the future was the equalisation of pay scales for new entrants whose qualification allowance was abolished in 2012, the INTO said.

There was continuing criticism on Thursday of the delay in announcing the allocation of Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) for next year, an issue first highlighted by the INTO last week.

The Irish Primary Principals' Network said school principals were "becoming incredibly frustrated with the lack of progress on this issue".

“Time is running out for schools to implement appropriate recruitment and vetting procedures by September 1st or to activate redundancies so close to the start of the next school year,” it said.

Fianna Fáil spokesman on education Charlie McConalogue also criticised the delay, saying SNAs were being treated unfairly as "many still don't know if they have a job this September".

An announcement is due next week once the cabinet has approved the allocation. The department of education has confirmed it will be higher than forecast due to a fresh increase in demand for SNAs.

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