Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education and Skills Thomas Byrne says the failure by Minister Bruton to engage constructively with teaching unions on pay equality could lead to major industrial unrest in schools across Ireland.
Deputy Byrne made the comments after the INTO rejected the new public service pay agreement negotiated last month. The ASTI and TUI are also in the process of balloting members on the pay agreement.
“Currently new entrants to the teaching profession start on much lower salary scales as compared to their established colleagues. The difference in pay scales means that a new teacher will earn up to €100,000 less than their colleagues over the course of their career. This is having a detrimental impact on morale in schools as new teachers are understandably disillusioned.
“We cannot have a situation where schools are closed again in Autumn and Winter. We saw the negative impact that this had last year on students. Students have already suffered enough, and Minister Bruton must work constructively with the teaching unions to avoid a repeat of this.
“The outcome of the INTO ballot clearly demonstrates the level of frustration amongst teaching staff. New teachers understand why separate pay scales were implemented during the economic crisis, but they have been left in the lurch as the Government has not set out a pathway for securing pay equality as the economy recovers.
“Minister Bruton needs to give a firm commitment that he will work constructively with all the teaching unions to avoid any closure of schools later this year is working towards achieving pay equality for new teachers as public finances improve. The current situation is eroding morale in schools and simply cannot be allowed to continue.
“The Minister must also recognise that failure to provide leadership on the pay equality issue could lead to widespread industrial unrest in schools right across the country,” concluded Deputy Byrne.