THE president of the Irish National Teachers Organisation Joe McKeown said the recent increase in inflation must be ‘addressed urgently’ by the government if industrial harmony is to continue.
The Irish National Teachers Organisation conference began today in Killarney with an address by Cork man Joe McKeown.
Opening the union's annual congress, the Haulbowline native said that the recent increase in inflation has led to a serious erosion in the standard of living and must be addressed urgently.
"No recently qualified teacher can now reasonably expect to be able to afford to buy a house in most parts of Ireland. For many, even rented accommodation is out of reach,” he said.
The INTO president praised teachers for providing ‘high quality’ education during the pandemic as he saluted their ‘commitment, dedication and resilience’.
He reiterated the union’s concerns about the way pregnant teachers were treated during the pandemic as he said the government ‘displayed a reckless disregard for their physical and mental health’.
He announced that an agreement was reached in recent days to restore 1,400 posts of responsibility to primary schools but warned that the union will not rest until all leadership posts are restored to ensure high-quality leadership teams in all schools.
The INTO president welcomed the second successive reduction in class size in the budget and called on the Minister to commit to achieving the objective to reach the European average class size in the shortest possible timeframe.
Mr McKeown said the expertise of special schools and special classes must be ‘recognised, valued and utilised'. He also called for continued investment in programmes such as the Migrant Teacher Project and the Initial Teacher Education to create a diverse teaching profession.
The Minister for Education Norma Foley TD is scheduled to address Congress tomorrow morning and the INTO General Secretary, John Boyle will respond.
This year's INTO Congress will be dominated by teachers’ pay, industrial relations issues, and education issues of concern to primary teachers.
These include class size, teacher supply, conditions of employment, the funding of schools, school leadership issues including workload and pay, mental health services for primary school children, special needs teaching, and the impact of Covid-19 on schools.
The 100th annual ASTI Convention will be held over the next three days in Cork’s Clayton Hotel Silver Springs.
Members will be debating several issues which include the lack of investment in schools, lack of access to specialist services (such as Guidance Counselling and psychological supports), skeleton management structures in schools, high teacher workload, and teacher shortages.
Teachers’ pay will dominate the first day of the Annual Convention 2022.
ASTI members are set to demand equal pay for post-2010 entrants to teaching, a pay increase to offset the cost of living increases and an end to unpaid additional working hours.
Motions at Convention 2022 include that the ASTI will refuse to engage in discussion on Leaving Cert change until a full, open, and transparent study of the Framework for Junior Cycle has been undertaken.
A number of other motions relate to teachers’ concerns about their health and safety in the workplace.
The 2022 Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) Annual Congress will take place between Tuesday, April 19 and Thursday, April 21 in Wexford and will be addressed by Minister for Education Norma Foley and Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation, and Science Simon Harris.
Key issues at Congress 2022 include the legacy of Covid-19 and the need for investment in education, damaging effects of pay discrimination, Senior Cycle reform, third-level funding, and workload issues.
TUI President Martin Marjoram said:
“Pay discrimination affecting those employed since 2011 has led to a teacher recruitment and retention crisis in our schools. The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform must immediately eliminate pay discrimination.
"The availability of affordable accommodation is a severe problem. To make the profession attractive, we must return to a situation where teachers are appointed to permanent contracts of full hours from the commencement of their careers,” he added.