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“I’m down about €50,000 compared to someone who qualified a year before I did”; the continuing battle for pay equality in teaching

Photo by Arthur Krijgsman for Pexels.

The two-tier pay structure in teaching once again came to the fore recently, as each of the national teaching unions held their annual conferences.

The Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) representing primary teachers, and both the Teachers Unions of Ireland (TUI) and Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) representing post-primary teachers, all unanimously called once again for the outstanding issue to be addressed. The news comes on the heels of a demand by the same unions for each of their members to receive inflation-matching pay increases.

The Minister for Education Norma Foley attended all three of the conferences, and made a commitment at each that talks over a new or extended public sector pay deal would begin soon. Speaking at the INTO conference, Ms Foley said that both she and the government were “strongly aware” of the cost of living pressures facing not only those in the teaching profession, but across all of society. The current public sector pay deal is due to expire at the end of the year, and under it, teachers along with all public servants are expected to receive a 1% pay increase in October.

Many of the addresses given by members at each of the conferences also referenced the fact that since 2012, a two-tier pay system has existed in teaching. Despite promises of reform by past ministers and government, this system still exists today. Those who ‘entered’ teaching (i.e. qualified and began working in the sector) in 2011 or earlier are on the ‘traditional’ pay scale, while teachers who entered the profession in 2012 or later (often referred to as the ‘post-2011 graduates’) are on the ‘amended’ pay scale. Post-2011 graduates argue that over the lifetime of their work, they stand to earn considerably less than their pre-2012 graduate colleagues.

The Circular spoke to Gary O’Keeffe, the Chairman of the North Carlow INTO branch, about teacher’s calls for inflation-matching pay increases, and the continued plea for pay equality in the sector. You can listen to the interview in full, below.

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