ICTU public services committee endorses public service agreement  

Public service unions, including the INTO, affiliated to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions today (Tuesday) endorsed a new public service agreement after 13 out of 17 unions in the sector, which collectively represent the overwhelming majority of Ireland’s public servants, backed the deal.

The package, called ‘Building Momentum, was formally ratified at a meeting of the ICTU’s Public Services Committee (PSC) this morning.

The agreement, which comes into force with immediate effect and runs until December 2022, includes pay increases with a particular focus on lower scale points,  a further increment skip for post-2010 entrants to teaching, and a mechanism for sectoral bargaining drawing on a ‘sectoral bargaining fund,’ initially worth 1% of basic pensionable pay during the lifetime of the agreement. The agreement also retains strong protections against the privatisation and outsourcing of public services.

Earlier this month, INTO members voted to accept ‘Building Momentum – A New Public Service Pay Agreement’. In an online ballot, 80.6% of participants voted in favour of the agreement.

The agreement addresses three outstanding issues prioritised by members for a decade or longer:

Pay equality 

The agreement ensures that post-2010 entrants to primary teaching will no longer suffer future pay losses compared with earlier entrants.

By skipping point 12 on the teachers’ salary scale, the length of the scale for post-2010 entrants has now been restored to 24 points, as was the case prior to the cuts introduced by government in 2011.

Members who began teaching in 2011 who have full service will benefit from the skipping of point 12 from 1 March 2021.

Principals’ and deputy principals’ pay award 

The sectoral bargaining component of the agreement provides the union with the opportunity to advance from February 2022 the outstanding adjudication in favour of primary school principals and deputy principals.

The INTO expects to enter the sectoral bargaining process commencing from next month to advance this matter.

Thirteen years ago, an independent review concluded that the allowances of principals and deputy principals in schools with five teachers or less should be increased by approximately €3,000. It also recommended that the allowances paid to school leaders in larger schools should increase by on average €2,000 per principal and €1,500 per deputy principal.

In the intervening years, the workload of our primary school leaders has increased considerably while middle leadership teams have been decimated due to the moratorium on promotions in primary and special schools.

General pay 

‘Building Momentum’ also provides increases in October 2021 and again in October 2022 of €500 or 1% of gross earnings, whichever is greater. Considering that primary teachers, like all public servants, had to contend with reduced salaries for eleven years, these increases will build on the ending of pay austerity measures last October and signal a new beginning for our members.

Retired teachers will also benefit from a 2% uplift to pensions by October next year.

The proposed agreement commits the union to industrial peace on issues covered in its terms and to ongoing cooperation with curriculum renewal and a number of Department of Education initiatives and action plans.