The State’s biggest teachers’ union is warning that the Government will risk industrial unrest unless it provides inflation-matching pay increases before the end of this year to compensate members for the rising cost of living.
As the teachers’ Easter conferences get under way, Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) president Joe McKeown will on Monday tell delegates at the opening of its annual congress that a planned 1 per cent pay rise under the existing public sector pay deal is nowhere near enough.
As The Irish Times reports, he will say inflation-matching pay increases are needed to “stabilise’ the current pay deal and preserve industrial peace.
The Central Bank, which has raised its full-year inflation forecast to 6.5 per cent, has warned that salary increases may result in a longer period of “harmfully higher inflation”.
The push from the INTO for a significant increase in pay is likely to add to demands from other public sector unions for similar increases.
Union figures argue that an increase for teachers and other public sector workers would not result in an inflationary spiral on the basis that it is compensating for losses already felt over the past year.
The unions’ comments come as the Government heads into talks later this month on a possible new public sector pay deal. The public sector committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (Ictu) has invoked a change-in-circumstances clause to a review of the current accord on the back of rising inflation.
Minister for Education Norma Foley, who is due to address INTO delegates on Tuesday, has said that teachers’ pay is part of a wider public sector discussion between unions and the Government.
While Government sources have indicated that some response may be necessary, they have warned against inflation-matching pay increases given that every 1 per cent on the pay bill costs about €250 million.
The INTO is also likely to hear emergency motions calling on the Government to act urgently to provide pay increases or risk worse teacher shortages.