"The system has been the subject of controversy in the years since it was introduced yet, despite promises by the government and discussions with the teachers’ unions, as well as numerous other strikes over the years, as of now there have been no changes."
The Teachers’ Union of Ireland (TUI) announced that its members will hold a strike on February 4th in order to protest the two-tier pay system for teachers which has been in place since 2011.
The two-tier system means teachers who qualify after January 1st 2011 earn significantly less than their colleagues who qualified pre-2011, even when they have the same qualifications. It is estimated that a teacher who qualifies post-2011 will lose out on €100,000 over the course of their career. The current system of payment was introduced in 2011 as a result of the Public Service Agreement 2010-2014 (also known as the Croke Park Agreement) as one of a series of cost-saving measures initiated by the government regarding public servants.
The system has been the subject of controversy in the years since it was introduced yet, despite promises by the government and discussions with the teachers’ unions, as well as numerous other strikes over the years, as of now there have been no changes.
Ninety-two percent of members of TUI voted for industrial action to include striking in October 2019. In November, TUI stated that if the issue was not settled by February 2020, their 19,000 members would strike.
The current plan for a strike on 4 February will affect over 1,100 secondary schools, institutes of technology, technological universities and centres of further education. The management of each educational institution employing TUI members has discretion over whether they close for the day for the strike or not, though it is believed that a substantial amount of them will choose to shut their doors.
The timing of the strike to coincide with the general election to be held on February 8th was intentional in order “to make pay discrimination a key election issue”, according to TUI President Seamus Lahart, who also added that this campaign “will continue until pay discrimination has been eliminated”.
The Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland have also balloted their members for strike action, the results of which will be known sometime next week. They will not be taking part in the TUI strike on February 4th.