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Young teachers are facing an 'increasingly bleak reality'

Unions say half of all teachers under 30 are now on part-time work arrangements.

Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

Updated at 11.05

NEARLY ONE-THIRD OF all teachers are now employed on part-time arrangements which force many into “income poverty”, one union claims.

And the share of the profession who aren’t on full-time contracts rises to half for those in the under-30 age bracket.

Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) president Gerry Quinn said there was a “common but utterly incorrect perception” that all Irish teachers were in secure, full-time jobs.

“In the second-level system, this bears no resemblance to what has become an increasingly bleak reality and a similar situation exists in institutes of technology,” he said.

Speaking ahead of the union’s annual congress in Wexford tomorrow, Quinn said for several years teachers had been applying for “fragments of jobs” with no guarantees they would still have positions the next year.

These teachers experience income poverty, often struggling to make even the most modest of financial commitments. To make matters worse, those who entered the profession from 2011 are on a severely cut salary scale.”

TUI estimates that 30% of second-level teachers are employed on a part-time basis, while the proportion rose to 50% for those under 30.

The union wants initial appointments to be made on a permanent basis and for extra hours to automatically be given to part-time staff before new teachers were recruited to schools.

Teacher Unions Talks Over Strikes Union officials including TUI president Gerry Quinn, second from right. Source: Mark Stedman/Photocall Ireland

Union to vote on gay discrimination

Meanwhile, the annual congress of the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) is taking place at Ennis in Clare today.

About 850 delegates representing 33,000 primary teachers in the south and 7,000 teachers in the north will attend the three-day conference.

Over the course of the event, teachers will vote on several wide-ranging motions. One such motion asks INTO members to call for Section 37 of the Employment Equality Act to be repealed.

This section means that religious schools are exempt from certain aspects of equality law due to their ethos and teachings. As a result of this rule, some teachers have had to hide their sexuality for fear of losing their job.

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sec 37

Teachers at the conference will vote on a number of other motions, including:

  • Calling on the union “to use all means possible, up to and including strike action” to secure the restoration, for all qualified teachers, of the common pay scale in place in 2008, prior to the pay cuts resulting from the FEMPI legislation – once the Haddington Road agreement ends;
  • Calling on all political parties and candidates “to commit to proper funding of primary education in order to reduce class size, support schools of all sizes, tackle the effects of disadvantage through education and improve school funding in areas of capitation and resourcing”;
  • Demanding that the funding of primary education be increased, in line with international standards in comparative countries in the EU and OECD;
  • Calling for extra special educational needs posts to be made available, and the reversal of the 15% cut in resource teaching hours;
  • Demanding the Department of Education invests more money in the continuing professional development of teachers;
  • Demanding that where a teacher is on leave as a result of any assault in the workplace, their absence should be exempt from the normal sick leave entitlement; and allowing teachers on maternity leave to accrue leave in lieu of holidays missed.

INTO President Sean McMahon and Tom Healy of the Nevin Economic Research Institute (NERI) will address the conference’s opening session at 2pm today.

Education Minister Jan O’Sullivan will deliver a speech tomorrow morning. The event will continue until 3pm on Wednesday.

First published 7.15am

Additional reporting Peter Bodkin

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Órla Ryan

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