Supporting The ASTI Pay Claim

 

Sir, - Once again teachers are being driven to take industrial action in defence of the education system. This is the essential issue in the forthcoming pay dispute.

On the basis of the rewards now available to members of a very demanding profession, there is no possibility that those retiring will, in general, be replaced by equally able entrants.

It has rightly become a truism that our teaching profession played a key role in generating the current boom. Our young people are in great demand by international companies. But it is often forgotten that the teachers' contribution was made possible only by determined resistance to many short-sighted governments over the past 20 years. Artificial depression of teachers' pay, increases in pupil/teacher ratio and other budgetary cuts were often their first resort. It is amusing to hear the politicians responsible for such policies now claim parenthood of the Celtic Tiger.

Now, as then, the campaign by teachers to prevent salaries falling far behind the rewards available in other professions is truly in the national interest. Now, as then, the crucial resource in education is an able and committed teaching force.

Tax reductions for all in return for income restrictions on some - this is the principle underlying the so-called Programme for Prosperity and Fairness. Income from professional fees, rents, dividends and capital gains is actually enhanced rather than restricted by the PPF. Yet the beneficiaries receive the same tax reductions as PAYE professionals and employees generally. It is no surprise, therefore, that official statistics show a growing gap between the income of employees and that of the recipients of non-pay income. If this gap persists, it will destroy teaching - and, indeed, other PAYE professions.

The ASTI's initiative is therefore most welcome. All teachers at first, second and third level must give it their full support. My branch of the TUI, the Dublin Colleges Branch, has called for a special congress on pay which would mandate a ballot of all TUI members on solidarity action with any teachers' union engaging in strike action on pay. The TUI congress has already instructed that a claim be lodged seeking a catch-up award comparable to that achieved by other public service employees under the PCW. Our members have rejected the Government's 3 per cent offer by a three-to-one majority in a ballot. The Dublin Colleges Branch has now set the level of our claim at 15 per cent on top of the increases due under the PPF and the additional increases necessary to compensate for inflation. - Yours, etc.,

Paddy Healy, Former National Honorary Secretary, TUI, Member, Governing Body, DIT, School of Physics Kevin Street. Dublin 8.