Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education Thomas Byrne TD has urged the ASTI leadership to continue to engage in talks with the Department of Education to avoid school closures due to industrial action.

Deputy Byrne has also called on Minister for Education Richard Bruton to make a public statement committing to full equality of pay for newly qualified teachers.

“I believe Minister Burton should make a public statement outlining a pathway to full pay equalisation for newly qualified teachers. Such a statement would go a long way in helping to reassure ASTI members that substantial progress has been made on pay equality,” explained Deputy Byrne.

“The Minister has to reassure ASTI teachers that they will see an immediate restoration of allowances for newly qualified teachers, as per the current INTO & TUI deal. Furthermore Minister Bruton must outline that he is fully committed to achieving equalised scales for new entrants in the post-Lansdowne Road Agreement talks which are due to take place in 2018.

“I have long argued that the current arrangement where newly qualified teachers do not receive the same allowances as their colleagues is unfair. It is corrosive to morale in schools.

“The commitment to examine pay levels across the public service, including entry levels of pay and allowances, was a key demand of Fianna Fáil in our discussions on an arrangement to facilitate a minority Government. We will ensure that this commitment is acted upon, particularly through the Public Service Pay Commission.

“Industrial action will not be in any parties’ best interest, including teachers. Prolonged school closures will have a massive impact on students, especially those in their exam years. I urge the ASTI and its members to reconsider entering the Lansdowne Road Agreement which Fianna Fáil remains committed to. Teachers who enter the LRA will receive significant pay rises in the years ahead.

“I believe that there is also room to engage on other differences between the Department and the ASTI. Teacher unions that have entered into the agreement have room to manoeuvre on a number of issues and have already achieved the restoration of allowances for newly qualified teachers.”