Primary teachers’ rejection of pay deal leaves Government in a difficult position

Proposal to end two-tier pay rejected by INTO and accepted by TUI, with ASTI still to decide

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has signalled the Government’s €200 million deal on new-entrant pay is as far as it is prepared to go. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has signalled the Government’s €200 million deal on new-entrant pay is as far as it is prepared to go. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The Government is now facing the prospect of potential industrial action by both teachers and nurses in the months ahead.

The vote on Tuesday by primary school teachers who are members of the INTO union to reject proposals to end the controversial two-tier pay system across the public service will cause concern in Government. The INTO has traditionally not been one of the more militant public service organizations.

The union’s executive will meet next week to consider its next steps including a ballot for industrial action.

The executive of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) will meet next week to consider a ballot for strike action in the wake of the decision of its members to vote against Government pay proposals.

These proposals have also been rejected by the Psychiatric Nurses Association.

Members of the secondary school teachers’ union ASTI will give their verdict on the Government proposals in a ballot to be concluded next month.

All unions will have to ballot their members again prior to any industrial action taking place.

The Government now finds itself in a difficult position regarding public service pay.

It had hoped to tackle public service pay pressures with a twin-track strategy.,

It had hoped to address the controversial two-tier pay system across the public service - which sees those recruited since 2011 paid less than longer serving staff - as part of an initiative negotiated with public service union leaders over recent months.

Under this deal staff affected would catch up over time by jumping two increments on their scale.

However some groups maintained this was insufficient as it would take eight years to fully complete this process and it would not deal with other grievances such as the abolition of allowances for recently-recruited teachers.

The Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe, on the other hand , signalled the €200 million deal was as far as the Government was prepared to go .

Now the Government faces a situation where the two-tier pay deal has been rejected by one group of teachers, the INTO, and accepted by another, the TUI, with the ASTI still to decide.

For nurses the matter of pay is broader than the new-entrant issue, although about 10,000 could benefit from the Government proposals in this area.

The INMO had sought an across-the-board pay rise to address problems in recruiting and retaining staff in the health service.

The Government has asked the Public Service Pay Commission to look at this area and it concluded in September that there were no generalised recruitment and retention problems in nursing and midwifery but rather localised difficulties.

On foot of its report the Government proposed a €20 million package of measures including increases in some allowances and faster access to promotional posts.

However these proposals were rejected decisively in a ballot.

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