INTO takes pay inequality challenge to Europe

The INTO has challenged pay inequality on the grounds of age discrimination, in a long-running case led by two members. In March the Labour Court referred key questions from that case to the European Court of Justice.

The case is being taken by two INTO members Claire Keegan and Thomas Horgan with the support and backing of the union. Both primary teachers qualified in 2011 and face career long earnings losses of €100,000 (4%) over 2010 entrants.

Addressing delegates in Killarney Noel Ward, Deputy General Secretary said: “We reject pay inequality for new entrants, not just because it is unfair and divisive but because we believe it is unlawful.”

He said in schools up and down the country what distinguishes teachers on new entrant pay rates from their colleagues is their age. “Less pay for new entrants equals less pay for younger teachers,” said Mr Ward.

He said the EU had laws to tackle that kind of unfairness.

The Labour Court referred key questions from the case brought by Horgan and Keegan to the European Court of Justice.

“We look forward to our submission to that Court,” said Mr Ward, “where we will show, with the Department of Education’s own figures, that 75% of new entrant teachers in 2011 were 25 years of age or under.”

He said the public servants most disadvantaged, and disproportionately disadvantaged, in the 2011 cuts were young teachers. “What we are working and hoping for is that the Courts will call pay inequality what it is – unlawful age discrimination.”