“Student Teachers want their say- equal work for equal pay” was the battle cry of an estimated 2,000 trainee teachers and Newly Qualified Teachers (NQT’s)
Student teacher’s NQT’s and their colleagues marched in solidarity from O Connell Street to the gates of Leinster House in protest against education cuts and Separate Salary Scales for NQT’s.
Ann Fay president of the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO) was MC for the event. She began the rally by urging the crowd to do what they do best and “Educate the Government-Education Cuts do not heal.”
Several high profile speakers were in attendance including Gerry Breslin president of the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland (ASTI) and Gerry Craughwell president of the Teacher’s Union of Ireland (TUI). They led the crowd in heartfelt, poignant and passionate speeches praising the ongoing work of Student Teachers and NQT’s and lambasting the Irish Government for its decision to cut education budgets.
Breslin labelled Education Minister Ruairí Quinn the “Minister for Shrinking Resources” and warned that it will be the vulnerable children who suffer as a result of education cutbacks.
“Schools lose teachers, classes are amalgamated and classes become bigger. Schools have dropped subjects like Physics, Chemistry, Economics and Languages- Students need these subjects, they need them to compete in the foreign markets and to get a good job.”
He also made the point that permanent teaching jobs are relatively nonexistent and hundreds of young NQT’s are forced to emigrate overseas to secure a stable job position.
TUI president Gerry Craughwell began his speech by acknowledging the various placards held by the protesting students. Craughwell then wished to remind Minister Quinn that his party (Labour) was founded on the backs of Workers and Trade Unionists in this country.
“The Minister well knows that the basic principle of Trade Unionism is Equal Pay for Equal Work. This principle has been abandoned in our republic, we now have colleagues working side by side on different pay scales- the minister must stand up for the basic principles his party was founded on – Equal Pay for Equal Work.”
Each impassioned speech was met with cheers of approval from the crowd. Ann Fay of the INTO closed the rally with the words
“And finally please please do not litter the place with your posters- you’re going to need them again, bring them home. Go raibh maith agat agus Slán Abhaile.”
Click on the following link to listen to snippets of audio and speeches from the protest: protest-against-education-cuts