THE TRADE UNION representing Ireland’s primary school teachers has criticised yesterday’s reviews of public service allowances, saying the decision not to reverse allowances suspended in the last Budget is tantamount to a third annual cut in teachers’ pay.
The Irish National Teachers’ Organisation said decisions to cap qualification allowances for new entrants to the teaching system means primary teachers have been hit harder through successive cutbacks than other public servants.
“While qualification allowances are abolished, new teachers will start on the fourth point of the salary scale,” the union’s general secretary Shiela Nunan said.
“In addition, all teachers who carry out supervision duties will continue to be paid the supervision allowance. This means the starting salary for new teachers, including a supervision allowance, will now be €32,294.
Three years ago a similarly newly-employed teacher could expect a wage of €39,195 – meaning a gross pay cut of 17 per cent in the last three years.
The pay could have been lower, however, as supervision allowances – an extra allowance paid to teachers in return for giving up breaks in order to supervise in the schoolyard at lunch break – had been retained, having been identified as previously being up for abolition.
Nunan said the pay now being offered to new teachers did not reflect the academic standard of new teachers in Ireland, who she said had been recognised as among the highest achievers, in academic terms, in the world.
She argued that it was not possible to defend a system where younger teachers were paid significantly less than only slightly more experienced peers who were doing exactly the same work.
The union said it would continue to work towards reducing inequalities among teachers’ salaries.