The union representing primary school teachers in Ireland has rejected reports that it has decided to accept the terms of the public service pay agreement.
The Irish National Teacher’s Organisation (INTO) originally recommended that its 32,000 members reject the deal – as it failed to address the two-tier pay system that sees newly recruited teacher paid less than their colleagues.
Teachers recruited after 2012 are currently paid 10% less than those recruited earlier.
In a vote in July, 89% of the INTO membership followed that recommendation in rejecting the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA) deal.
It marked the first time that all three of the main teaching unions were united in rejected a proposed pay deal – with the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) and the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) also voting against it.
Pay equality review
Following a meeting of the INTO Central Executive Committee (CEC) last night, it was reported that the committee had decided to accept the deal to ensure its participation in an upcoming review of pay equality issues.
The review process is due to get underway in October.
In a statement this afternoon however, the CEC insisted that while it had decided to take part in the review, it had not made any decision in respect of the wider agreement.
“At the meeting it was decided to participate in the review of pay equality which will begin next month, a year ahead of what had been originally agreed,” it said.
“This was the only decision made at the meeting and it followed the union’s call for an early engagement on the issue of pay equality.
“The Executive did not make any decision in respect of the Public Service Stability Agreement, 2018-2020 which members overwhelmingly rejected earlier this year.”
The clarification has done nothing to ease the concerns of the union’s membership – with a group inside the union announcing their anger at the decision to enter any talks “under the umbrella” of the wider PSSA deal.
The Glór group of INTO activists insisted that the review will only examine how equality can be addressed without any adverse economic consequences for the wider deal.
It warned that “pay equalisation cannot be achieved by any talks that take place in the context of this deal.”
“We are appalled by the decision of our union leadership to enter into talks with the government under the umbrella of the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA) despite the 89% rejection of the deal by union members,” the group said in a statement.
“The reaction which we have received from union members across the country shows that many union members – and especially lower paid teachers – are equally appalled, with many threatening to discontinue their union membership.”
Full pay equalisation
It said INTO members rejected the deal “precisely because we do not want a ‘Review,’ we want full pay equalisation.”
“89% of INTO members gave the CEC a mandate to stand up against pay inequality,” it said. “We are calling on the leadership of the INTO to issue a ballot for industrial action on this issue and allow the members to decide on the next course of action.”
“If the leadership wish to enter talks let it be done outside of the context of the PSSA and with a mandate for industrial action to strengthen their negotiating hand.”
The CEC said the commitment to review the pay equality issue is “a significant advancement on the PSSA provision.”
It said that it had made the decision to participate in the review process “in a context where the PSSA has been accepted by a large majority of public service workers.”
The statement insisted the INTO had been successful in progressing the pay equality issue in both of the two previous public service agreements (Haddington road and Lansdowne Road) adding that it is “determined to do so further” in the context of the new agreement.