Teachers North and South demand fair pay 18/04/17
Teachers North and South demand fair pay
Tuesday, 18 April 2017
Irish National Teachers’ Organisation
INTO Congress 2017 in Belfast
The issue of pay for teachers, both North and South dominated the agenda at the INTO annual Congress in Belfast today. Teachers slammed cuts to pay that been imposed over the last eight years and demanded both the full reversal of these cuts across the country along with pay equality in the Republic of Ireland.
Members in the North began industrial action this year by withdrawing their co-operation from the Education and Training Inspectorate. This was followed by strike action, along with other teacher unions in the North, through a series of half day strikes since January.
The ever-increasing workload demanded of teachers, the significant decline of teachers pay, which is now well below the OECD average, and the attempt by government not to pay increments, led to 78% of INTO members voting for strike action and 95% of members voting in favour of industrial action.
In the south, teachers made it clear that pay equality is still at the top of their agenda. Speakers acknowledged that significant progress has been made but that the campaign needs to continue until full pay parity has been achieved.
Separate pay scales have been in operation for new entrant teachers since 2011. Some of the new entrant cut was reversed under the Haddington Road Agreement and under the Lansdowne Road Agreement, the INTO made further progress towards full pay restoration. This progress means that a new entrant on 1 January 2018 will start on 97% of a pre-2011 teacher, when at the height of the cuts they were facing a starting salary that was 85% of a pre-2011 teacher.
Speakers reiterated that there is still a distance to go in achieving full pay parity. They slammed separate pay scales as being discriminatory and unreasonable and called on the government to provide a roadmap to full pay restoration.
In addition to the pay equality issue, delegates condemned the array of pay cuts and levies imposed on all teachers under the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act. Delegates heard that these cuts were accepted as a temporary measure but given that the country’s economy is improving at a rapid pace, teachers demanded the full restoration of pay cuts suffered during the recession.
Proposing the motion Joe McKeown from the Central Executive Committee said equal pay for equal work was a core principle. “It should be standard practice for all fair-minded employers.”
He said the starting pay of new teacher entrants across the sector has been discounted by some 15%. “Even with recent improvements, this represents career long losses of more than €75,000.”
He said the difference in pay for exactly the same work is not justifiable.
He said successive governments had refused to honour a pay award made to primary school principals in 2008. “Yet they have continued to pile extra duties and responsibilities on the shoulders of already over-burdened principals, especially teaching principals. He said principals had waited long enough. Principals have had enough.
All primary teachers have worked harder, for longer, for less pay. Those days are over. The new deal must deliver pay equality. It must deliver the principals’ benchmarking award and it must deliver pay increases for all teachers. He said the endorsement of the INTO for any new pay deal cannot be taken for granted.
Dorothy McGinley from the union’s executive told the conference that teachers in the north were drowning under a tsunami of initiatives including targets, monitoring and evaluation. Yet she said salaries in the north are certainly not taking account of the astounding increase in workload. This is essentially now leading to a build-up of resentment, despair and anger right across the teaching profession.
She told delegates that with the increase in national Insurance, pension contributions and inflation, teachers have essentially lost 15% over the past few years. This, she said, was the same as teachers working an additional 6 to 8 weeks for free.
“There’s a general mood that our job just isn’t worth the grief anymore,” she said. “We’re doing far more than we’ve ever done in terms of paperwork. We’re held accountable for every single thing it would seem. We’re juggling 6 reading groups and 5 maths groups in ever growing class sizes. At the same time our pay is decreasing.