Laois teachers have insisted that their decision to strike is about supporting younger colleagues, some of whom do the same job in the classroom but are up to €8,000 worse off as a result.
Schools in Portlaoise, Portarlington, Mountmellick, Heywood and Mountrath all closed last week due to the strike.
Laois teachers from the Association of Secondary Teachers of Ireland (ASTI) took to the picket line last Thursday October 27 in a bid to obtain equal pay for equal work for newly qualified teachers.
For Noel Donlon, a mathematics teacher on the picket line at Portlaoise's St Mary’s CBS , the sums do not add up.
“Today is not about supervision and substitution. I have been teaching for 20 years, this does not affect my pay or the pay of the majority of teachers. We are here in solidarity with our younger colleagues who do the same work as us, but for up to €8,000 per year less in some cases after spending five or six years in college.
“Many new teachers living in urban areas find it hard to rent, let alone to buy a home. This is about equalisation not about pay rises and it is important that people know that,” he said.
Scoil Chriost Ri teacher Pat Critchley has taught for over 30 years.
“We are out in solidarity with younger teachers who are not treated fairly. The newly qualified teachers are a credit to the profession and bring great new skills. They are the teachers of the future. They deserve to be paid the same as everyone else, they are doing the same work as the rest of us,” he said.
Multiple subjects’ teacher at St Mary’s CBS Seamus McWey also supported his colleagues.
“Eventually like all disputes this one will be sorted out. This has to happen sooner than later. The last thing that we want is the students not being in their classes safe and learning. The Minister is leaving us no choice but to defend our newly qualified teachers.” he said.
Kieran Hogan was on the picket at Mountmellick Community School.
“Our school has a mixture of teachers from both the ASTI and the Teacher’s Union of Ireland (TUI). The school’s board of management decided to close the school on health and safety grounds.
“We would much prefer to be inside teaching the children, we don’t want the children to be disadvantaged in any way, we want equal pay for equal work for our colleagues. When this is sorted out everyone concerned will be much happier. We hope that the talks will continue between the union and the Department of Education and that this is sorted by the 8th of November.”