THE ASSOCIATION OF Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) is recommending that its 18,000 members should reject the new public service pay agreement.
The union will ballot its members on the proposed agreement in the coming weeks.
The ASTI Central Executive Council met today to decide its position on the successor to the Lansdowne Road public sector pay agreement. Finance and Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe previously described the deal as “fair to workers and taxpayers”.
However, the 180-member executive expressed the view today that the new agreement does not resolve the issue of equal pay for recently qualified teachers.
Last October, ASTI members took strike action to highlight that teachers entering the profession are placed on inferior pay scales and lose out substantially over the course of their careers.
Equal pay for equal work
Unions continue to state that it is unfair that younger teachers’ pay is not on the same level as some of their colleagues (which amounts to around €3,000 a year in the difference).
Today’s vote will likely add more pressure on the government to address the issue, particularly since one of its Cabinet members has said she believes teachers should be paid equally.
Minister of State for Higher Education Mary Mitchell O’Connor told reporters last month that she believed teachers who do the same work should be paid the same.
“I’m very cognisant of the issue around the younger teachers. What I believe is that there are many teachers in staff rooms paid differently, they go through seniority, and get more money.”
RTÉ’s education correspondent Emma O’Kelly asked the minister for clarity on the issue, and O’Connor replied:
“You said that everyone who does the same job deserves the same pay…”
Well I think they do and I’m going to stand by that comment.
“In relation to teachers too?” asked O’Kelly.
“That’s my comment,” said the minister, nodding.
However, Education Minister Richard Bruton said that the funding wasn’t available to meet those pay demands.
Speaking today following the vote, ASTI President Ger Curtin said:
ASTI members have campaigned vigorously against the discriminatory treatment of recently qualified teachers in their pay. All ASTI members have taken strike action and lost pay in order to highlight this injustice.
The proposed Public Service Agreement does not achieve equal pay during its lifetime and this is the main reason why ASTI members are being urged to reject it.