As two further days of strike action took place in secondary schools across the country last week, teachers and students returned to school on Wednesday as the strike by the Association of Secondary School Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) was called off late on Tuesday afternoon.
The ASTI union and the Department of Education both accepted an invitation to meet with Anna Perry today, who is the chair of the Teachers Conciliation Council.
While the strike action was taking place on Monday and Tuesday, I visited St. Patricks College in Drumcondra where I spoke to two student teachers on why they agree and disagree with the strike action, and whether they think the current pay agreement for first time teachers is acceptable or not.
Under the current pay scale that operates for teachers in second level schools in Ireland, post-February 2012 entrants to teaching are not entitled to qualification allowances and are paid according to a revised new entrants salary scale.
Teachers begin on the first point of this scale which has a starting yearly salary of €31,009. There are 25 points which can be reached with each year of service provided.
Amie Kavanagh is a final year student teacher in St. Patricks College, where she is studying Irish and Human Development. Amie is of the opinion that the current pay situation, for first time teachers in Ireland, is unfair and can cause tension between colleagues in the staffroom. ‘’I don’t see where the equality or fairness is in having to turn up to work from 9-4 each day, carry the same workload and deal with the same issues or problems as teachers who have been in the school twenty plus years, and get paid less for it.’’ says Kavanagh.
‘’In my opinion, this agreement is bringing us back to the day where men earned more money than woman, which was deemed unacceptable if they did the same type and amount of work as them. In this case, age is a prohibiting factor in newly qualified teachers earning the same wage as their counterparts which I think they should be entitled to.’’ Kavanagh continues.
Another final year student in St. Patricks College, Anne Marie Byrne, condemned the strike action by ASTI members and believes that a pay scale is a fair system of payment for newly qualified teachers. ‘’I do think the system is fair.’’ she said.
‘’In reality, a newly qualified teacher who is just out of college and earning €31,000 a year in their first job is not too shabby. The teachers who are on a higher pay scale have been present in their jobs for years and would have handfuls more experience than a teacher in their first time job. I think that that with experience comes rewards on the pay scale and I would be happy to work under this pay scheme.’’ reasoned Byrne.
From last Wednesday, ASTI teachers agreed to return to school and supervise students during school break times while the Department of Education meets for talks with Ms Perry.
Photo Credit: Laura Duffy