Fórsa trade union has written to the Department of Education and Skills seeking a commitment that the department will agree to utilise the services of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) in an effort to resolve the current school secretaries’ dispute.
School secretaries have been engaged in limited industrial action since Friday 20th September. The union has advised school secretary members that the work to rule will continue until the dispute is resolved or until the parties are asked to defer the action to enter meaningful talks.
The work to rule action has withdrawn school secretaries from work on public service systems and databases on the basis that, because they are not paid or recognised as public servants, they will refuse to carry out the functions of public servants.
Fórsa is seeking a commitment that the Department of Education and Skills will agree to utilise the services of the WRC in an effort to resolve the current school secretaries’ dispute.
The action is expected to cause significant disruption to the administration of the schools sector without affecting students or parents.
In a letter sent to the department today, Fórsa’s head of education Andy Pike, advised that, “because there have been no discernible efforts made to resolve the underlying issues” Fórsa would shortly need to consider escalating the industrial action and to extend the industrial action to include another 150 schools where secretaries have joined the union over the past few weeks.
“We believe that it should not be necessary to take those measures, it is normal practice for both parties to use the services of the WRC and we see no reason why the department should refuse to participate in WRC conciliation,” he said.
The union has advised school secretary members that the work to rule will continue until the dispute is resolved or until the parties are asked to defer the action to enter meaningful talks.
Mr Pike has asked the department for a response by close of business on Wednesday (2nd October). He said notice of further industrial action will have to be served on schools early next week.
In an update sent to school secretaries today, Mr Pike said the department has now had sufficient time to analyse the returns from their survey of school principals, and about the likelihood of escalating the industrial action if the department refused to cooperate with the WRC.
The union understands that Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD, may make a statement on the industrial action in the Dáil on Wednesday (2nd Ocotber).