Teachers to strike over ‘pay discrimination scandal’

Secondary schools, colleges of further and adult education and institutes of technology are facing strike action by members of the Teachers' Union of Ireland next month.

The union said it was a "coincidence" that a general election was being held on the same week that its 19,000 members would be on strike for a day and that its intention had always been to take strike action on Tuesday, February 4 over the ongoing “scandal” of pay discrimination.

Last October TUI members overwhelmingly voted to engage in a campaign of industrial action, up to and including strike action. In November it said it would take strike action in February unless the matter was resolved.

TUI president, Seamus Lahart, said.

“We have exhausted every avenue open to us to bring this matter to resolution and have been left with no choice but to take strike action over the ongoing scandal of pay discrimination,” he said.

The union has said teachers employed after January 1, 2011 earn over €50,000 less in the first ten years of their career than their longer-serving colleagues.

Mr Lahart said the commitment made last April by Education Minister Joe McHugh to address pay inequality had not been honoured.

A Department of Education spokesperson said the Government gave a commitment that the matters would be given full consideration and that commitment remained.

"And this will happen either in the context of any pay review mechanism agreed by the parties to the Public Service Stability Agreement or in the context of the next round of pay talks."

According to the department, public service agreements allowed a programme of pay restoration for public servants, with the starting salary for a new entrant teacher increasing from 30,702 in 2012 to €36,953 and from October it would be €37,692.

Reacting to the strike, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar said: "First of all I would really regret it if the secondary teachers decided to go on strike in February as they're proposing. We have a deal with the two with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions on restoring pay for new entrants. That is being implemented.

"And it's an absolute certainty that when the new government takes up office that we will want to negotiate a new pay deal with public servants, because the existing pay deal expires at the end of the year anyway.

"And if the unions want the completion of restoration of pay for new entrants to be the priority, well then we can do that. But those negotiations should happen when they're supposed to happen. And that's later in the year as the existing deal that we have with the unions expires."

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