Pay inequality for teachers “better be high on the agenda” for the next Government according to the Teachers Union of Ireland representative for Cork.
Mike Lyons made the comments as thousands of teachers went on strike and schools closed across Cork city and county on Tuesday.
Nationally, over 19,000 TUI members in second-level schools, centres of further and adult education and Institutes of Technology participated in strike action, calling for equal pay for teachers who qualified after February 1 2012.
At second level, a teacher employed after that date earns 14% less on initial appointment and 10% less over the first ten years of their career. In money terms, this amounts to over €50,000.
“Education matters. The greatest resource in education is the staff. Without staff you don't have anything,” Mike Lyons told The Echo.
He said the profession needs to be one that needs to be attractive to new recruits.
“If you don’t pay people equally it’s the public and children that will suffer. How are we going to attract the best and brightest if we don’t pay them properly?” Mr Lyons said.
While the TUI have acknowledged that the issue is not likely to be solved in the short term, of the new Government Mr Lyons said: “This issue better be high on the agenda.” Green Party election candidate for Cork South Central, Councillor Lorna Bogue, has come out in support of the teachers: “Numbers of teachers are falling, and it’s not because of a lack of jobs: people just don’t see a future in the vocation, and this pay discrepancy is a reason for that.
“Teachers are striking for a fairly basic request, one which should have been met a long time ago. Pay levels need to be restored by the next government, whoever that will be after this weekend,” she said.
Meanwhile Sinn Féin education spokesperson, and Cork South Central candidate, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said: “It is wrong that there are people in staff rooms across the state who are doing the same job as the person sitting next to them but being paid a completely different wage.
“The next government must restore pay equality and give all workers a break.”