450 Kilkenny teachers to ballot on strike action
By COLIN BARTLEY
OVER 450 teachers in Kilkenny will be asked to vote next month on whether or not to approve strike action in a row over a two-tier pay system.
The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) will ballot its 18,000 members next month, of which 450 are in Kilkenny, and the ballot will run from September until early October.
Members are voting to get rid of the two-tier pay structure introduced by the Government as part of its austerity measures in the early part of this decade.
Teachers who qualified after 2011 started on a lower pay scale to those who qualified before 2011. The teachers in the lower tier also lost some pay add-ons their counterparts still avail of such as the Higher Diploma allowance.
Bernie Ruane, the assistant regional secretary of the TUI, said they are balloting members on whether they should proceed with industrial action, which could include strike action, as part of the campaign for pay equality.
“One in five teachers work on the lower tier of pay, those teachers who qualified post-2011 are the people are the most hit.
“Not alone are new teachers starting on lower pay, they also lost the H-Dip allowance. This now takes two years to complete as opposed to one
To qualify as a teacher now, you must do a four-year degree and then complete a two-year H-Dip in education. You also have to do a one-year ‘Droichead’ course.
“It takes the same length of time to qualify as a teacher as it does to qualify as a doctor – seven years, and there is no comparison in the pay.”
The TUI claims there is still a massive pay gap between teachers employed before and after January 1, 2011, as much as 14% difference. Bernie Ruane, speaking with KilkennyNow.ie says the ballot is simply asking their members to support a campaign for equity.
“We are looking for all teachers to be treated equally. Our longer serving members will be supporting this.”
Ms Ruane believe the low entry-level pay for teachers, along with the length of time it takes to qualify, is contributing to “a crisis in teacher supply.”
“Up to half of the schools have unfilled teaching roles. There is a huge shortage in areas such as languages and in subjects like home economics.
“People who qualify with language are going working for tech companies like Google and Facebook, companies who need people with languages. There is no pay comparison for people when they come out of college.
“We can’t attract people to work in teaching when they are offered only part-time hours and low entry-level pay.
“The IT companies offer higher wages straight out of college without having to do a two-year H-Dip. All these issues must be addressed.”