National school teachers reject government pay deal

The INTO has warned the public service pay agreement fails to address equal pay

National school teachers reject government pay deal

Junior infants classrooms in St Catherine National School | Image: Rollingnews.ie

National school teachers have voted to reject the government’s new public service pay deal.

The executive council of the INTO (Irish National Teachers' Organisation) last month recommended that their 36,000 strong membership vote no to the deal.

This afternoon, the union announced that members had rejected the deal by a majority of 89%.

More than half of the union’s members in the Republic voted in the ballot.

INTO deputy general secretary, Noel Ward said the new deal fails to address the ongoing dispute over pay inequality:

"In staff rooms throughout the country you have two teachers who are doing exactly the same work but are paid on different rates based essentially on their age," he said.

"The younger person is paid less and that is an issue that is a festering sore among our membership."

The union's general secretary, Sheila Nunan said the ballot result showed clearly that the proposed new deal is unacceptable to the vast majority of primary school teachers.

“The proposed agreement does not progress the issue of pay equality imposed by government on new entrant teachers,” said INTO general secretary Sheila Nunan.

“While progress was made in recent years on pay equality this was not continued in the recent pay talks.

“There was an opportunity to draw a line under discrimination and right a wrong imposed on new entrant teachers. The proposed agreement does not signal an end to pay inequality.”

Teaching unions

The country’s other main teacher unions have yet to ballot members on the deal.

Both the INTO and the TUI (Teachers Union of Ireland) accepted the original Lansdowne Road agreement – however the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) remained outside.

The ASTI standing committee has recommended that members reject the new deal – however the final decision on whether to recommend a rejection or acceptance lies with union’s central executive council, due to meet in the autumn.

The TUI executive committee meanwhile has voted unanimously to recommend rejection.

Should the membership of all three union’s vote to reject, all 70,000 teachers in the Irish education sector will be united in opposition to the deal.

ASTI members have been penalised in recent years for their rejection of the original deal – losing out on a range of payments enjoyed by their colleagues at other unions.

Primary and post-primary equality

Ms Nunan said the deal also fails to address inequality of payment between primary and post-primary school principles.

“The proposed agreement offers little prospect of delivery on this within the lifetime of the agreement,” said Ms Nunan.

“For the INTO, the recent talks were about pay restoration, pay equality, the protection of pensions and the payment of principals’ benchmarking. 

“While there has been some progress, on a number of key issues for the INTO there has not been enough progress.”

The INTO executive council is due to consider the results of the ballot next month.

The Department of Education has been contacted for comment ...