Donegal adult educators demand equal pay during Dublin protest

Those delivering adult education programmes in Donegal are demanding more pay and yesterday joined a national protest outside Dáil Éireann calling for the same conditions as their post-primary counterparts.

The protest moved from Leinster House to the Department of Further and Higher Education on St Stephen’s Green where teachers from across the country, including Donegal, began chanting for better pay.

Among the participants was Adult Educator Finn Mac Aodháin from Fintown. Mr. Mac Aodháin teaches the ESOL programme for Donegal ETB in west Donegal. ESOL stands for English for Speakers of Other Languages. Currently, 90% of his students are from Ukraine.


“I’m a married man with a family and have bills to pay so we’re not being unreasonable. We’re paid the lowest rate in the country. Dublin city tutors receive €45 per hour while we get €34.

“I don’t receive compensation for travel time or travel expenses. My pay only covers the time I spend in the classroom. For every hour we teach there is 45 minutes of preparation and we’re not paid for that.

“We’re doing the same work as our post-primary colleagues. Most of us have the same qualifications but we’re forced to sign on the dole in summer and at Christmas time etc,” explained Mr. Mac Aodháin.

The Adult Education Teachers Organisation (AETO) is a relatively new body that already has 400 members throughout Ireland. It’s understood there are more than three thousand adult educators employed across the country’s sixteen ETBs.

Orla Winters provides Adult Literacy training in Donegal town, Ballyshannon, and Bundoran. In addition to teaching English, she assists older students in learning how to use computers and smartphones.

“We can’t understand why there are different pay rates across the country. Most of us have degrees, are well qualified and have been teaching for years.

“Our job is all about upskilling people and getting them off the register and yet we have to go on the dole ourselves during holiday periods.


“It’s just the ambiguity of it all. There is a lot we didn’t know until we came together. Tutors don’t ask questions, afraid that hours will be cut next year if they give too much trouble,” claims Ms. Winters.

“We want the same terms and conditions as our colleagues that work in post-primary education. We do the same work, including preparing students for State exams, so we should have the same pay, holiday and pension entitlements.

“We also want parity between ourselves because we’re all on different rates of pay across the country and pay is particularly bad within the Donegal ETB system,” she continued.

Members of the AETO say they have no choice but to continue protesting outside the Dáil and the Department of Education because their voices are too weak within the established unions.

“The TUI are negotiating but a lot of adult educators are not members of that union simply because we don’t get paid enough to afford the subscription.

“We’re not really on the TUI’s radar. They’re negotiating a new deal but they haven’t really spoken to us to find out what we want,” according to Ms. Winters.

The Donegal delegation at yesterday’s protest expressed disappointment that none of Donegal’s TDs came out to hear their concerns, despite approximately ten TDs from other parts of the country doing so.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has told the Dáil that Industrial Relations mechanisms must be used to try and resolve the dispute between tutors and the ETBs.

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