Teachers turn deaf ear to Minister’s call for pay restraint

ASTI chief says union to seek restoration of common basic scale for all teachers

Teachers have responded with a flurry of demands to calls by the Minister for Education Jan O’Sullivan for realism in the forthcoming public service pay restoration talks.

At its conference in Killarney the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland (ASTI), which represents second-level teachers, called for the abolition of the public service pension levy, which averages about 7.5 per cent, and the scrapping of the 33 additional working hours per year set out under the Croke Park agreement.

ASTI president Philip Irwin said the union conference would also be seeking the restoration of the common basic scale for all teachers and the reinstatement of qualification allowances for new teachers.

In 2011, the Government cut the pay of new entrant teachers by 10 per cent, although about 70 per cent of this reduction has now been reversed.

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In 2012 allowances paid to teachers with specific qualifications were abolished for new teachers.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) which represents primary-school teachers, passed a motion at its conference in Ennis seeking the full payment of increases agreed under the former social partnership deal Towards 2016.

It is also seeking a benchmarking award to principals and deputy principals which was never paid, as well as the reintroduction of qualification allowances.

Realistic

Ms O’Sullivan told delegates at the INTO conference that they should be realistic about what could be delivered immediately in terms of pay.

She was not invited to address ASTI delegates.

On the first day of the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) conference in Wexford, the union passed motions seeking the abolition of the pension levy and demanding that pay negotiations would not be linked to extra productivity. Both teachers and lecturers in the TUI also voted to take strike action if pay differentials between long serving employees and recent recruits were not abolished.

Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin is expected to convene talks with public service unions next month on unwinding financial emergency legislation under which the Government, and its predecessor, imposed two and in some cases three cuts in earnings for State employees since 2009.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

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

Joe Humphreys

Joe Humphreys

Joe Humphreys is an Assistant News Editor at The Irish Times and writer of the Unthinkable philosophy column