Teachers’ union to demand inflation-matching pay increases

INTO president to warn that a pay rise is needed to stabilise the public sector pay deal

The State’s biggest teachers’ union will warn the Government today of potential industrial unrest unless teachers’ pay is increased to compensate for inflation.

As the teachers’ Easter conferences get under way, Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) president Joe McKeown will on Monday tell delegates at the opening of its annual congress in Killarney this afternoon that inflation is eroding teachers’ standard of living.

He will say unions need to stand together to secure proper pay increases and ensure the teaching profession is not taken for granted. Otherwise, he will say, industrial harmony may be threatened.

The push from the INTO for a significant increase in pay is likely to echoed by other teacher unions conferences, such as the Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) which meets in Wexford tomorrow and the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI), which meets this week in Cork.


The Central Bank, which has raised its full-year inflation to 6.5 per cent, has warned that salary increases could results in a longer period of "harmfully higher inflation".

Union figures, however, argue that an increase for teachers and other public sector workers would not result in an inflationary spiral on the basis that it is compensating for losses already felt over the past year.

The unions' comments come as the Government heads into talks later this month on a possible new public sector pay deal. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions has invoked a change-in-circumstances clause to a review of the current accord on the back of rising inflation.

Minister for Education Norma Foley, who is due to address delegates at all three conferences this week, has said that teachers’ pay is part of a wider public sector discussion between unions and the Government. Minister for Further and Higher Education Simon Harris will also address TUI delegates.

While Government sources have indicated that some response may be necessary, they have warned against inflation-matching pay increases given that every 1 per cent on the pay bill costs about €250 million.

The INTO is also due to hear motions noting that while a 1 per cent pay increase is due in October, inflation is running at least five times this amount.

The union is called on to immediately seek an increase in pay to compensate members for cost-of-living increases which have occurred during the current pay deal.

The TUI, meanwhile, has published a survey which indicates that availability of affordable accommodation is emerging as a severe problem.

The online poll of 1,200 members in March and April found that almost three quarters of those appointed after 2011 do not believe it would be possible for them to get mortgage approval for a property in or near the location where they work.

Of those renting among the same cohort, 98 per cent said it would be extremely difficult (77%) or difficult (21%) to secure new accommodation in the locality if they had to vacate their current accommodation.

TUI president Martin Marjoram said the findings showed the need to end the “scandal” of pay discrimination.

He also said it was of great concern that 65 per cent of teachers did not get a contract of full hours upon initial appointment, which meant that for several years, they only earn a fraction of a full salary.

The TUI annual conference will hear a motion for the current public sector pay deal to be immediately renegotiated to protect members from rising inflation. The motion will seek a ballot for industrial action on the issue, if necessary.

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