Wednesday, September 01, 2021

School secretaries will stage a one-day strike on September 15th amid an ongoing dispute over their pay and working conditions.

The Irish Examiner reports that pickets will be placed at the Department of Finance and Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on that day.

Fórsa, the union representing school secretaries, has accused both departments of blocking the implementation of a Government commitment to standardise their pay and conditions.

Most school secretaries earn just €12,500 a year according to the union, and face irregular short-term contracts that force them to sign on during the summer holidays and other school breaks.

Tánaiste Leo Varadkar gave a commitment in the Dáil last year to end the system of pay inequality.

Last July, the Department of Education offered an increase of 50 cent an hour after the dispute was referred to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

‘Badly let down’

However, Fórsa said there has been a failure to make the expected proposals to fully standardise pay and conditions.

“They had a reasonable expectation that a solution would be in place by now,” Andy Pike, head of education with Fórsa said.

“They have campaigned and made their case, which has won broad public and political support.

“School secretaries have been badly let down, and feel that industrial action is now the only option open to them.”

The staff affected are employed by individual school boards of management and are paid out of the ancillary grant provided to each school, according to Fórsa, earning less than the minority who work in ETB schools.

Strike action is the last thing that secretaries wanted

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, said the party fully supported the secretaries “in their decades-long campaign for pay equality, improved working conditions and pension entitlements.”

“Strike action is the last thing that secretaries wanted. Their hand has been forced after years of poor treatment and inaction by successive governments,” he said.

“The insulting offer put forward by the Minister for Education at the WRC last month, which was far from securing pay equality, was the last straw.”

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