Three major teacher conferences this week will hear calls for pay rises to help teachers cope with the rising cost-of-living.
The Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) conference in Cork will debate a motion calling for industrial action unless teachers get a pay increase in line with the rising cost of living.
Meanwhile, TUI delegates meeting in Wexford tomorrow will seek immediate renegotiation of pay deals to take spiralling prices into account – and hear calls for a campaign of industrial action to force the issue if needed
An emergency motion at the INTO conference will look for measures to address inflation but will stop short of debating strike action.
The conferences are the first to be held in-person since the pandemic began and Education Minister Norma Foley will address the INTO this morning before speaking to the ASTI this afternoon.
Meanwhile, the Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris will this morning tell the TUI about his plans for future funding for higher education.
On Newstalk Breakfast this morning. Minister Foley said the teachers’ pay concerns will be addressed in the upcoming public sector pay talks.
“In terms of the pay issue, Minister McGrath has been very clear in acknowledging that a review of the Building Momentum agreement will take place,” she said.
“It was most certainly negotiated in very different times and preliminary discussions have already begun.
“He has made it absolutely clear that he is more than happy to continue those discussions and as I say, there will be further discussion and negotiation going forward in relation to Building Momentum.”
Asked whether it was unhelpful for teachers to debate strike action before talks on the agreement had begun, Minister Foley said the conferences have the right to discuss whatever they wish.
“There is freedom to do as people choose and when it comes to conference, for any of the teaching unions or indeed for anybody at all, that is the forum where they do discuss their concerns.
“But I just want to take the opportunity to assure them that Minister McGrath has signalled very clearly that he is happy to begin the review of the Building Momentum agreement.
“So, I think, in the discussion, that should be taken into consideration as well but again, I want to be very clear, conference should have the freedom to discuss anything it wishes to discuss.”
She said Minister McGrath will his own budgetary obligations to consider when the talks do get underway.
Also on the show, ASTI President Eamon Dennehy said teaching is no longer seen as an attractive profession.
He said failure to secure increased wages would be 'disastrous' for the Irish education system.
“It’s not seen as being as attractive as it used to be,” he said.
“There are now problems filling jobs etc. in schools so actually, the status of the job and the way it is perceived as being a good job is slipping – and that is only going to be disastrous for our education system.”
You can listen back to Minister Foley here:
And to Mr Dennehy here: