New teachers in Northern Ireland worst paid in UK and Republic, claims unions

A classroom
A classroom

New teachers in Northern Ireland are the worst paid in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland, unions have claimed.

Gerry Murphy, of the Irish National Teachers' Organisation (INTO), said new teachers in the region are paid 6.6% less than their equivalents in England and Wales, 23% less than equivalents in Scotland and 47% less than their colleagues in the Republic of Ireland.

The figures were heard during a sitting of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee at Westminster.

The committee is currently undertaking an inquiry into education funding in Northern Ireland.

Committee chair Andrew Murrison put it to Mr Murphy that the Education Authority says it has no difficulty recruiting new teachers and has an oversupply of teachers.

Mr Murphy responded: "The number of teachers in employment has declined, the total number of teachers is down 692 in the last three years."

Justin McCamphill, of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT), added: "In 2010 we had 329,500 children, we now have 340,000. In 2010 there were 20,136 teachers but now only 19,867.

"If we had kept the ratios the same since 2010 there would be 20,781 teachers now.

"The problem isn't that we are training too many teachers, the problem is that we have been making teachers redundant.

"Therefore, there hasn't been jobs for those who have been trained because the workforce is being downsized at the same time as the number of children has increased."

Mr McCamphill said his office now receives at least two calls a week from teachers inquiring about how they can get a job in the Republic of Ireland.

"The difference in salaries in the Republic is quite significant," he said.

"We now, on a regular basis, gets calls into our office from teachers asking, 'how do I get a job in the Republic'."

Mr Murphy said his office receives four to five calls a week from teachers asking how to get a job in the Republic of Ireland.

He said at the top of the scale, the salary for a teacher in the Republic on the main scale goes to 61,000 euro (£54,910), which he said was 62% higher than the top of the main professional scale in Northern Ireland.

Mr Murphy said some of the difference is due to the lack of pay increases for teachers in Northern Ireland.

Members of four of the five teachers' unions in Northern Ireland are engaging in industrial action in a dispute with management over pay and conditions.

The unions say teachers are worse off in real terms after receiving just two 1% pay raises since 2010.