Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education and Skills Thomas Byrne TD says the public squabbling between Ministers over teacher pay does not serve the interests of new teachers who want pay equality.

Deputy Byrne has called on Minister Bruton to end the confusion in his Department by making a firm commitment to pay equality for teachers and set out a clear roadmap of how this will be achieved.

Deputy Byrne said, “I have always said that the situation whereby new entrants to the teaching profession do not begin on the same pay scales as their longer serving colleagues cannot be justified and is corrosive to morale in schools.

“The commitment to examine pay levels and pay equality 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 ensured that this commitment was acted upon, through the Public Service Pay Commission which agreed the new public pay agreement.

”As result of pressure from Fianna Fáil, from unions and teachers themselves, the difference between new teachers and teachers on the old pay scale has narrowed substantially whereby the starting salary for newly qualified teachers will be €37,600 from 2020 as opposed to €41,500 for pre-2011. However more clearly needs to be done to bridge the gap.

“Both the ASTI and TUI leadership have recommended their members to reject the proposed successor to the Lansdowne Road Agreement which their members will vote on in September. The INTO membership have already rejected the new pay agreement on the basis that it does not achieve pay equality for new teachers.

“While possible industrial action by the INTO is a long way off, a signal of clear progress on this crucial issue for teachers will be the key to averting strike action and preventing school closures from disrupting the whole school year.

“The squabbling that has been on display between Fine Gael Ministers as a result of Minister Mary Mitchell O’Connor’s off the cuff remarks yesterday do nothing to clarify how pay equality for new teachers will be achieved in the coming years.

“Fianna Fáil is united on this and we are committed to achieving full pay equality for newly qualified teachers. We will be pushing the Government to agree a roadmap with unions on how full pay equality will be achieved. We need to re-assure teacher unions, especially the INTO, on the new entrant issue and give them a robust commitment of how full pay equality will be achieved.”