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Unequal pay is driving graduates away from teaching, says union

The TUI has today called for an end to unequal salaries for teachers.

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IRISH GRADUATES ARE being put off teaching as a profession by a combination of low pay and a lack of working hours according to one of the main unions.

The Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) says that more secure employment options in other industries in Ireland are making it increasingly difficult for schools to attract new teachers, and that this will remain the case until salaries are equalised.

The warning from the TUI is the latest example in a stream of industrial unrest seen since the Luas tram drivers in Dublin went on strike recently.

Those drivers’ demands for up to a 27% increase in base salary has seen similar murmurings in the interim coming from Irish Rail workers, gardaí, and now teachers.

“We are hearing with increasing frequency that schools are struggling to attract new teachers in certain subject areas,” Gerry Quinn, president of the TUI, said today.

Graduates who had intended to undertake a masters in teaching and, increasingly, qualified teachers across a range of subjects are routinely finding better paid and more secure employment in industry.

Teaching graduates who qualified from February 2012 earn a reduced starting salary of 21.7% less than those who joined the profession prior to 2011.

Meanwhile 30% or more of Irish second-level teachers are employed on a temporary basis, with this figure rising to 50% for those aged under-35.

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The problem is particularly pronounced in subjects such as home economics, languages, the sciences, and Irish according to Quinn, who expects the situation to become widespread across all subjects over the next ten years “unless the profession is made more attractive”.

“For a range of compelling educational, economic and social reasons, the quality of teachers entering the profession must be maintained. Key to this is a return to equal pay for equal work,” he says.

The TUI urges that salary equalisation occur in as short a timeframe as possible. The alternative will see a drain of the best young graduates away from the profession at a time when they are most needed.

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