Thousands of teachers will vote next month on whether or not to renew a mandate for industrial action, up to and including strike action, as part of its campaign to end pay discrimination.
The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) will ballot its 18,000 members next month.
The ballot will run from mid-September to early October.
“In September 2017, TUI members gave the Union a mandate for industrial action, up to and including strike action, as part of the campaign for pay equality,” explained TUI President Seamus Lahart.
“That mandate is now being refreshed.
“Progress has been made in the campaign to end pay discrimination, but a gap remains,” he added.
“The process must now be completed and this injustice conclusively addressed.” The union claims that the biggest differences in pay between those employed before and after January 1, 2011 still occur in the early years of employment, with new entrants to second level teaching earning 14% less on initial appointment and 10% less in the first 10 years than they would have before the introduction of cutbacks.
“This two-tier pay regime is a cynical, damaging, discrimination, resulting in situations where colleagues are paid at different rates for carrying out the same work,” said Mr Lahart.
“It must also be borne in mind that many new entrants to teaching do not secure a contract of full hours upon initial appointment, earning just a fraction of the whole-time salary.
“In addition, they are commencing their career at an average age of 26,” he added.
“We are not looking for preferential treatment for these teachers – we are simply looking for all teachers to be treated equally.
“Needless to say, they are fully supported by longer-serving colleagues in this campaign for justice and equity, which remains TUI’s key priority.” The TUI also claim that, as well as financial losses to teachers, the pay gap has contributed to “a crisis in teacher supply”.
A survey of principals in a sixth of the country’s second level schools carried out by TUI in April found that over the previous six months, 94% of schools experienced teacher recruitment difficulties.
A further 68% of schools advertised positions to which no teacher applied while 47% of schools had unfilled teaching vacancies.
“With the new academic year commencing around the country, there is already strong anecdotal evidence that these difficulties are worsening,” added Mr Lahart.
“Those affected by this injustice are rightly frustrated at the slow pace of progress.
“For the sake of teachers and students, equal pay for equal work be restored as a matter of urgency.”