Secondary school teachers threaten strike action

David Kelly

ASTI also rejected the government’s proposals, as they did not adequately address the pay equality issues.

Secondary school teachers have announced their intention to strike if the
primary school teachers’ strike action goes ahead.
Following the government’s rejection of proposals to end the two-tier pay system for teachers recruited in recent years, the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) has said that they may ballot for strike action.

At a recent meeting of the ASTI’s central executive council, the following motion was adopted: “intention to conduct a ballot for industrial action in parallel with the primary teachers’ union (INTO), should the INTO proceed with
a ballot”.

Last November, the ASTI also rejected the government’s proposals, as they did not adequately address the pay equality issues. The government has estimated that the solution to this issue would cost nearly €200 million and would be solved by 2020.

“It is unacceptable that in 2019 we expect a cohort of teachers to do the same work as their colleagues for inferior pay which will lead to substantial losses over their careers. We are committed to ending this discriminatory treatment,”
said Breda Lynch, ASTI President.

The INTO has said that before they trigger a ballot for industrial action, the union will enter into “constructive dialogue” with the government regarding the pay issues. These pay issues affect teachers who began work between
2011 and 2014.

“The ASTI has already taken strike action as part of its campaign to achieve equal pay for equal work. We will continue to stand in solidarity with our lower paid colleagues until full pay equality is restored,” said Lynch.

In a recent press release, the INTO has said that they enjoyed a constructive meeting with the oversight group of the Public Sector Stability Agreement. It was agreed that further engagement with the oversight committee would
continue in the coming weeks.

The rejected government proposals, a part of the Public Service Pay Plan, would see newer teachers receiving an average pay increase of over €3000. The proposal was rejected by the ASTI by a margin of six per cent.

“I think it’s absurd that I could potentially be teaching the same amount of children, for the same amount of hours a day and putting in the same amount of planning as another teacher in the classroom next door to me, but just
because they qualified prior to 2011 they would be earning significantly more than me for the exact same job,” said Laura Jane Guing, a student primary teacher in DCU.

David Kelly

Image credit: Alison Clair