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Teacher unions plan ballots for industrial action over stalled pay talks

The unions noted that workers’ pay has been diminished by soaring inflation.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Sam Boal

TEACHER UNIONS HAVE announced plans to ballot members on industrial action over a lack of progress in public sector pay talks.

The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) and the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) both said today that they would ask members to vote next month on potential action.

The INTO accused the Government of “irresponsible procrastination” at public-sector pay talks and urged it to quickly put a “respectable” pay offer on the table.

The ASTI also urged the Government to bring a “credible” proposal on pay to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) discussions – which ended without agreement in June.

Both unions said they would be urging their members to back the industrial action.

The Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) has confirmed that it will meet tomorrow “and as we have previously stated, it is expected that we will ballot members in September on either a revised pay offer or on a co-ordinated public service campaign designed to achieve such an offer.”

TUI general secretary Michael Gillespie said the cost-of-living crisis must be addressed.

“Inflation has spiralled in the months since the review clause of the current public service pay deal was triggered, so any proposed pay increases must appropriately address the resulting severe cost-of-living crisis that is affecting society,” he said.

“Separately, for those teachers appointed since 2011, this cost-of-living crisis has been exacerbated by the pay discrimination that has seen them paid at a lower rate than their colleagues for carrying out the same work.

“Pay discrimination has also greatly contributed to a teacher recruitment and retention crisis in schools. The remaining elements of this pay discrimination must be resolved as a matter of urgency.”

The announcements come two weeks after the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) said public sector unions were ramping up preparations for industrial action ballots as part of a co-ordinated campaign on public sector pay.

INTO President John Driscoll called on the Government to urgently return to the WRC negotiations with a respectable pay offer that unions could put to a ballot of their members.

“For five long months, soaring inflation has decimated workers’ take-home pay across the public and private sectors. Our members have waited patiently for their employer, the Irish Government, to take steps to address the enormous financial pressures they are facing,” Driscoll said.

“It beggars belief that – at a time when exchequer returns are in a broadly positive space – the Government is engaging in delay tactics, seemingly forgetting the trojan work of public servants during the recent pandemic,” he added.

ASTI President Miriam Duggan also noted that teachers and other public sector workers are trying to cope with hefty cost of living increases.

“A significant improvement in pay is essential to help offset spiralling inflation,” Duggan said.

“Teachers in common with other public sector workers are finding it difficult to make ends meet. It is very disappointing that the Government is showing such scant regard for public servants in light of all they contributed at the height of the pandemic,” she added.

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About the author:

Céimin Burke

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