Striking teachers brought cakes by colleague who can’t afford union dues

ASTI members at Deerpark CBS in Cork say fact people not paid same rate for same job is ‘ridiculous’

 

A newly qualified teacher who claims she cannot afford to be a member of a trade union brought a plate of cakes to her colleagues at Deerpark CBS in Cork city to thank them for striking on her behalf.

Geraldine Rea said she was frustrated that the action had to be taken by the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) in order to draw the attention of Government to the challenges faced by newly qualified teachers.

“I am a new teacher and I couldn’t afford to join a union so I am just saying thanks to them for doing this for me,” she said. “I am teaching in with them but I couldn’t afford the union. It just isn’t an option. I never knew any different. I started on the lower wages. This is my second year teaching.”

Kevin Wall, a maths and history teacher, said the strike was a “last resort” effort to make the Government pay attention to the issues that impacted on teachers and students.

“We are disappointed that it has come to this. This has been an ongoing issue for us since 2011. Back in 2011 when the troika basically marched in to town and unilaterally imposed pay cuts on all public servants,” he said. “This has been our first opportunity to express our distaste for the treatment that we have been exposed to.”

Speedy resolution

Mr Wall said he was hoping for a speedy resolution to the crisis and that the ASTI had prioritised “the basic equality issue around equal pay for equal work”.

He said lesser paid teachers would have a loss of earnings arising out of the strike. However, they were left with little choice but to go on the picket line.

“They (newly qualified teachers) will feel the pinch the most. It is ironic that we are protesting for them but they are the ones out of pocket.”

Geography teacher Brian Kenny said “difficult” situations arise when newly qualified teachers are being paid far less than their older colleagues.

“People are doing the same amount of work on a different pay scale. People should be on the same levels of pay as their colleagues.”

English and history teacher Edel Farrell has worked at Deepark CBS since 2008, and feels lucky to have gotten in at that stage.

“I have colleagues in the school who would be newly qualified but much older than me and they are on €9,000 less, which is ridiculous. All we are fighting for is equal pay for equal work. And not to have teachers on three different pay scales,” she said.

Meanwhile, parents expressed concern about the loss of valuable teaching hours with Lisa Crean from Ballincollig saying the strike impacted most on teenagers doing state exams.

“I have a kid in Leaving Cert. I am very anxious about missed classes. But I sympathise with the younger teachers who are dedicated but cannot make a basic decent living.”