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Teachers' Union of Ireland 'left with no choice' but to strike next month over 'pay discrimination'

The dispute centres around the big pay differences in the early years of employment between those hired before and after 2011.

Image: TUI/Facebook

POST PRIMARY TEACHERS have decided to take industrial action next month over the ‘failure to eliminate pay discrimination’. 

The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI), which represents some 19,000 members in second-level schools, colleges of further and adult education, institutes of technology and universities, will strike on Tuesday 4 February. 

The dispute centres around the big pay differences in the early years of employment between those hired before and after 2011.

In October, TUI members voted by a margin of 92% to engage in a campaign of industrial action on this issue. The Union announced in November that it would take strike action in February unless the matter was resolved in the meantime. 

The Union stated that while its campaign has resulted in progress, new secondary school teachers earn 10% less in the first 10 years of their career than they would have before the recession-era cutbacks were implemented.

The union’s president Seamus Lahart said every avenue has been exhausted to resolve the issue and that TUI members have been left with “no choice but to take strike action over the ongoing scandal of pay discrimination”. 

Regrettably, the commitment made by Minister [Joe] McHugh last April that the issue of pay inequality would finally be addressed has not been honoured. The approach of the Minister and his Government since then has been to completely ignore the issue in the hope that it would somehow disappear.

“As our overwhelming mandate for industrial action shows, this short-sighted approach has only served to strengthen the resolve of our members,” he said. 
Lahart warned the campaign will continue until “pay discrimination has been eliminated”. 

Sinn Féin’s Education spokesperson Donnachadh Ó Laoghaire has called on Minister McHugh to address the pay equity issue for teachers who “are already stretched beyond capacity due to the enormous cuts by the Government in recent years”. 

It is unacceptable that you could have two teachers sitting in a staff room on two different pay scales despite doing the exact same work. 

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“The principle of equal work for equal pay is a basic and fundamental one, and it is appalling that any government ever allowed this,” Ó Laoghaire said. 

A spokesperson for the Department of Education said the government remains committed to giving full consideration to the TUI’s concerns which “will happen either in the context of any pay review mechanism agreed by the parties to the Public Service Stability Agreement or in the context of the next round of pay talks”. 

“The current series of restorative measures for new entrants has been achieved through continued engagement and collective bargaining between the Government and the public service unions and shows the benefits that such engagement can bring.

“The Government supports the gradual, negotiated repeal of the FEMPI legislation, having due regard to the priority to improve public services and in recognition of the essential role played by public servants,” the spokesperson said, adding that the matter of new entrant pay is a cross-sectoral issue, not just an issue for the education sector.

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Adam Daly

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