The public service agreements have allowed a programme of pay restoration for public servants to start. I negotiated together with my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, a 15-22% pay increase for new teachers. The agreements to date have restored an estimated 75% of the difference in pay for more recently recruited teachers and deliver full equality at later points in the scale.
As a result of the changes I negotiated together with my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, the current starting salary of a new teacher is €35,958 and from 1 October 2020 onwards will be €37,692. If full equalisation was achieved the starting salary for a post-primary teacher from 1 October 2020 would be €43,879 and for a primary teacher would be €41,511, at a cost of over €200 million across the public service.
Differential pay scales were introduced by the then Government in 2010. It must be borne in mind that the pay reduction for post-2011 entrants to the public service applied to all public servants and not just teachers, and that any restoration of these measures in respect of teachers would be expected to be applied elsewhere across the public service. While I am not in a position to provide an estimate of the total cost of restoring all post-1 January 2011 entrants in all of the public service to the pre-2011 pay scale arrangements, I can say that in the case of education and training sector employees, including teachers, the estimated current full year cost would be in the order of €130 million. Clearly, the cost across the entire public service would be substantially higher.
To have gone further than the pay increases that have been negotiated for 2018 would mean I would have had less money available to hire over 1,000 extra SNAs in 2018, and over 1,000 extra teachers in 2018.
Any further negotiation on new entrant pay is a cross sectoral issue, not just an issue for the education sector. The Government also supports the gradual, negotiated repeal of the FEMPI legislation, having due regard to the priority to improve public services and in recognition of the essential role played by public servants.
A commitment is included in the Public Service Stability Agreement 2018-2020 to consider the issue of newly qualified pay within 12 months of the commencement of the Agreement. That process has now commenced with a first meeting on 12 October 2017. The three teacher unions attended that first meeting.
In addition, the Public Service Pay and Pensions Act 2017 provides that within 3 months of the passing of the Act, my colleague the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform will prepare and lay before the Oireachtas a report on the cost of and a plan in dealing with pay equalisation for new entrants to the public service.