Ireland’s three main teachers’ unions are threatening to vote for a ‘coordinated public service campaign’ if their demands for a pay rise are not met within weeks.
The Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI), the National Organization of Irish Teachers (INTO) and the Teachers Union of Ireland (TUI) agreed on Friday on potential action before the end of the summer holidays .
In a joint statement published in the Irish Times, the three unions said: “ASTI, INTO and TUI plan to begin preparations for the September members’ ballots on either a revised pay offer or a co-ordinated public service campaign designed to achieve such an offer.”
Unions represent more than 80,000 teachers.
Public sector wage negotiations are set to resume next month, with unions signaling they are stepping up pressure on the government to make an improved wage offer.
A combined 5% wage increase over two years, presented earlier this year, was dismissed by workers as “not credible”.
TUI general secretary Michael Gillespie said inflation had “soared in the months since the review clause in the current civil service pay deal was triggered, so any proposals salary increase must respond appropriately to the severe cost of living crisis affecting society”.
“It is expected that we will vote for TUI members in September on a revised salary offer or on a coordinated public service campaign designed to achieve such an offer,” she added.
“For teachers appointed since 2011, this cost of living crisis has been exacerbated by pay discrimination which has seen them paid at a lower rate than their colleagues to do the same work.
“Pay discrimination has also contributed greatly to a teacher recruitment and retention crisis in schools. The remaining elements of this wage discrimination need to be resolved urgently. »
Also on Friday, incoming ASTI President Miriam Duggan insisted that wage increases “must be realistic if they are to counter the unsustainable rise in the cost of living”.
“The fact that inflation hit 9.1% in June makes significant wage increases a real priority for members who, like the rest of society, are trying to cope with sustained increases in energy prices, fuel, food and other essentials,” she said. said.
Increasing funding for education also needs to be addressed, Ms Duggan added.
“The OECD Education Report 2021 ranks Ireland last out of 36 countries for investment in secondary education,” she said.
“One consequence of this is large class sizes which limit student-teacher interaction and lead to increased work intensity and stress for teachers.
“At a time when teacher shortages are affecting secondary schools across the country, it is essential that cost of living challenges are addressed and that the outstanding issue of unequal pay for young teachers is resolved once once and for all.”
INTO referred to the joint statement.
On Wednesday, the Workplace Relations Committee (WRC) called on the government and unions to resume talks stalled in June.
On the same day, the umbrella organization the Irish Congress of Trades Unions (Ictu) said a coordinated campaign on public service pay would include possible industrial action ballots.
The two sides are expected to resume talks in mid-August.