A CORK teacher has warned that young teachers are struggling to secure mortgages or pay rent as the cost of living rises.
Former ASTI President Ann Piggott was speaking at the union's 100th annual Convention, which is being held in Cork’s Clayton Hotel Silver Springs and was today attended by Minister for Education Norma Foley.
Ms Piggott, who teaches in Cork secondary school Coláiste Éamann Rís, said the Government must listen to the concerns expressed by teachers.
Ms Piggott, who is the treasurer of the Cork ASTI branch, said teachers want a secure job with proper hours on proper pay.
“Teachers want a secure job, and they want proper hours. They also want the same pay as the person teaching students in the class next door as they are doing the exact same work. They want this sorted.
“It is getting very hard to get teachers to work in cities as they cannot afford to pay the rent. This all ends in a teacher shortage. The three teacher unions all want movement. The Government know how much inflation has increased by. They know about the increased cost of diesel, petrol, home heating, mortgages, and the cost of houses. How can teachers on a lesser pay scale survive?” she added.
Minister for Education Norma Foley said: “I do hear what the teachers are saying.”
Minister Foley said she hopes a "solution-focused" approach can be found to appease the concerns of secondary school teachers.
“The Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Michael McGrath is very keen to begin the review of Building Momentum. He has already held preliminary talks in relation to that and those talks will be ongoing. I think we have achieved a great deal when we do come together in a spirit of cooperation and have a solution-focused approach. Minister McGrath is very intent on doing that and I welcome that,” she added.
Addressing teachers’ pay and ending unequal pay scales are essential if teaching is to be a sufficiently attractive career for young graduates, the ASTI President Eamon Dennehy said: “Today we still have pay discrimination against second-level teachers who joined the profession after 2010. In a survey in March this year, 55 per cent of principals said their school currently has an unfilled teaching post. ASTI members need a pay rise.”
ASTI delegates have put the handbrake on the threat of industrial action over long-standing issues on pay and adequate working conditions for teachers ahead of talks with the Government about a potential new public service agreement.
Several ASTI members spoke passionately about the increased cost of living, the continued pay equalities among staff members and potentially bringing an end to unpaid additional working hours.
A motion in favour of industrial action received much support, but it was referred back to the union’s standing committee on procedural grounds as negotiations over a new social partnership deal and a successor to the Building Momentum agreement are due to get underway shortly.
Teachers’ pay dominated the first day of the annual convention.
A separate motion demanding that the pay increases granted must be in line with inflation and cost of living increases was overwhelmingly carried.