Updated: 01/02/18 : 07:13:19
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Schools and Colleges face lunchtime protest by teachers and lecturers

Teachers are holding a nationwide lunchtime protest today at schools and colleges around the country.

The action by the Teachers' Union of Ireland (TUI) is in protest at lower pay rates for newly qualified teachers.

Newstalk FM reports that the union claims pay inequality in the profession means schools are finding it hard to recruit new teachers.

According to the union, there have been particular challenges in recruiting teachers for second-level subjects such as Irish, science, maths, home economics and modern languages.

TUI President Joanne Irwin suggests the situation will get "much worse" ahead of the next school year if pay parity is not restored.

She observed: "Teachers and lecturers who entered the system since 2011 are paid at a lower rate than their colleagues for carrying out the same work, and graduates who might formerly have chosen teaching are now choosing other employment options.

"Pay inequality has undermined the profession and corroded staff morale, leading to a crisis in the recruitment and retention of teachers."

She added: "This inevitably impairs the quality of service to students. Unless and until this is addressed, the crisis will deepen."

She noted that while union members voted for strike action, they would prefer to enter talks before any decision to 'ramp up' industrial action.