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North's teachers tired of being 'second best' in pay scale rates

14-03-2008


12/03/2008 :: Northern Ireland :: The Irish News

A series of teachers' conferences have again raised concerns about pay and working conditions.

Teachers in Northern Ireland say they are tired of being "second best" and regarded as worth less than colleagues elsewhere.

That they are fighting for greater rates of pay is unsurprising - pay demands are always a priority for unions.

The latest preoccupation, however, is about achieving parity, rather than strictly about existing levels of pay.

There is no difference in salaries paid at present to teachers in England, Wales and Northern Ireland - both start on £20,133 and can earn up to £34,281.

In Scotland, salaries are also broadly comparable.

From April teachers in Scotland will earn between £20,427 and £32,583.

But staff in England and Wales look set to receive a higher pay increase from September than those in the north.

This has prompted some conflicting demands from the north's five teachers' unions.

The Northern Ireland Teachers' Council (NITC), which represents a number of unions, is fighting for a 10 per cent rise to salaries - and it wants the increase this year.

It says it deplores efforts to reduce pay to "colonial dominion status".

The salary claim, around five times the rate of inflation, mirrors a call made in England and Wales where the National Union of Teachers is threatening strike action.

While the large NASUWT union also wants better pay for its members, it says the NITC claim is "frivolous".

Instead it wants a guarantee that members in the north will receive the same 2.45 per cent rise that colleagues across the Irish Sea will be awarded from September.

Last year The Irish News revealed that the NASUWT union was planning its biggest ever industrial action.

So angry were teachers at being denied the same pay and working conditions that thousands were geared up for a strike.

The union's annual conference in Belfast last weekend endorsed Northern Ireland members' campaign to achieve parity.

While basic salaries are the same at present - excluding those working in London - teachers in the north receive lower annual cost of living increases and allowances for taking on extra responsibility.

They are also denied access to an 'excellent teacher' scheme which sees colleagues elsewhere achieve higher pay without having to become a principal or vice principal.

The NASUWT eventually pulled back from its threat of action to allow the assembly the opportunity to address its concerns.

However, the union is still angry at being considered "worth less".

New union president Rosella McCay told the NASUWT conference that many teachers were already earning less than they would if working in England or Wales, due to differences in bonuses.

Teaching allowances (TAs) are paid to those who take on added responsibilities including heading up after-school schemes or taking charge of a year group or area of the curriculum.

A teacher from the north with the basic TA1 will receive £1,722 on top of their salary.

The equivalent in England is £2,364.

TA2 in Northern Ireland will allow a teacher to earn an extra £3,480.

In Wales, the same level is worth £4,186.

Ms McCay claimed the north had an under-valued teaching workforce trying very hard to achieve the best outcomes for the children in their care.

"Their morale is extremely low," she said.

"Their morale is about to hit rock bottom as new initiatives are heaped on them time and again.

"Teachers have become demoralised right through the entire profession.

"Now teachers in Northern Ireland are to be further demoralised with continued reductions in the level of their pay in comparison again to teachers in England, Wales, Scotland and Republic of Ireland."

 

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