Other News In Brief

Teachers To Strike Over Pay Discrimination

Members of the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) are to take strike action on Tuesday 03 February over failures to eliminate pay discrimination.

The Union represents some 19,000 members in second level schools, colleges of further and adult education and institutes of technology/technological universities.

In October, TUI members voted by a margin of 92% to 8% to engage in a campaign of industrial action, up to and including strike action, on this issue, and the Union announced in November that it would take strike action in February unless the matter was resolved.

The Union stated that while its campaign has resulted in progress, those teachers employed after 01 January 2011 will still earn some €110,000 less than longer-serving colleagues over the course of a career. Critically, they will earn over €50,000 less in the first ten years of their career when key life choices are made.

Speaking today, TUI President Seamus Lahart said: "We have exhausted every avenue open to us to bring this matter to resolution and have been left with no choice but to take strike action over the ongoing scandal of pay discrimination.

"Regrettably, the commitment made by Minister McHugh last April that the issue of pay inequality would finally be addressed has not been honoured. The approach of the Minister and his Government since then has been to completely ignore the issue in the hope that it would somehow disappear. As our overwhelming mandate for industrial action shows, this short-sighted approach has only served to strengthen the resolve of our members. We are making it clear today that our campaign will continue until pay discrimination has been eliminated.

"Discrimination has no place in our schools. Paying colleagues different rates for carrying out the same work is morally wrong and has proved hugely detrimental to the morale of teachers and lecturers.

"Service to students has also been damaged, with the two-tier pay system fuelling an ever-deepening crisis of recruitment and retention of teachers in second level schools. A survey of principals carried out by TUI last April found that over the previous six months, 68% of schools advertised positions to which no teacher applied, while 47% of schools had unfilled teaching vacancies. In practical terms, this means that many schools are not in a position to offer the full range of subjects and levels.

"While TUI's intention had always been to take strike action in February if this issue was not resolved, the date's proximity to the general election affords our members and their families a focus point to make pay discrimination a key election issue.

"In the coming days and weeks, candidates of all political hues should be asked to outline their views on this matter; do they commit to a final ending of this nine-year-old injustice as a matter of urgency?"

Disappointment As Interest Rates Rise Under Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan Scheme

The government has authorised an increase in the lending rate under the Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan Scheme.

Labour's Housing spokesperson Jan O'Sullivan TD voiced disappointment that neither home loan applicants nor local authorities were advised of a possible increase, labelling the move as sneaky.

"This change makes no provision for individuals or families with applications already under consideration, and will no doubt exclude a significant cohort of people who just won't be able to use the scheme," Deputy O'Sullivan said.

"Others face a lowered borrowing ability and paying thousands in additional interest payments.

"This cold harsh move shows that Fine Gael has no concept of affordability for ordinary working families nor have they any idea of the desperate housing reality that so many are facing.

"The increase is a result of an increase of 0.745% contribution to the Mortgage Arrears Resolution Process Premium Fund (MARP) from its existing rate of 0.25% to 0.995%.

"I would like to know what the rationale is behind the move for almost quadrupling the contribution to this fund, and on what evidence it's based.

"The Rebuilding Ireland Home Loan scheme is working well and offers families and individuals the opportunity to put a secure roof over their heads."

Fianna Fáil Broadband Plans Under Fire

Fianna Fail has come under criticism for its broadband plans which seemingly leave Mayo premises out in the cold.

Minister for Rural and Community Development Michael Ring challenged Fianna Fáil's spokesperson Jack Chambers to explain Fianna Fáil's broadband plans to the people of Belmullet, Co Mayo.

This comes after Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin claimed he would not have signed the National Broadband Plan contract launched by Fine Gael.

Minister Ring said: "I'd like to hear what Fianna Fáil have to say to the people of Mayo waiting on broadband because so far, all they've said is: Wait.

"Fine Gael in government have delivered the National Broadband Plan. In just a couple of weeks, the rollout will begin, delivering high speed broadband to the 1.1million people across the country who will otherwise be left behind.

"36,360 of the premises are in Mayo. That's about €145m in investment for Mayo. Under Fianna Fáil, every single one of these premises would be left behind.

"Fianna Fáil have no Plan to deliver Broadband. Micheál Martin openly said he would not have signed the contract, yet has offered no credible alternative. Meanwhile their people at a local level are voting for the Plan – Fianna Fáil are talking out both sides of their mouth. All they have to offer people is disruptions and delays.

"Fine Gael are committed to delivering broadband," concluded Minister Ring.


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