Meeting comes ahead of school secretaries’ industrial action on 20th September
Fórsa has agreed to meet education department officials to discuss the issues behind industrial action by school secretaries, which is set to commence next Friday (20th September). The meeting will take place on Wednesday (18th September).
But Fórsa’s head of education Andy Pike said industrial action could only be prevented if the department put forward credible proposals to end pay injustice. “The two-tier low-pay regime for school secretaries has been in force for more than four decades, during which we’ve seen little if any serious engagement from the Department of Education. Of course we are willing to talk but, frankly, I don’t detect a change of heart from the other side of the table. Let’s see what Wednesday brings,” he said.
The two-tier low-pay regime for school secretaries has been in force for more than four decades. We are willing to talk but I don’t detect a change of heart from the other side of the table.
The row is over the education department’s refusal to address a two-tier pay system that leaves most earning just €12,500 a year, with irregular, short-term contracts that force them to sign on during the summer holidays and other school breaks. Earlier this week Fórsa announced that the workers involved had backed industrial action by a margin of 94% to 6% in a national ballot. The turnout was 68%.
School secretaries are set to engage in a short work stoppage at the start of the school day next Friday. Thereafter they will commence a significant work to rule. This action will withdraw school secretaries from work on public service systems and databases on the basis that if they are not paid or recognised as public servants. They will also refuse to carry out the functions of public servants.
Talks broke down in May when education department officials refused to discuss proposals to overcome a two-tier pay system that’s been in place since 1978.
Fórsa went to ballot after talks broke down earlier in the summer. The union says education department officials refused to discuss proposals to overcome a two-tier pay system that’s been in place since 1978.
The problem is rooted in an antiquated and discriminatory pay regime, which discriminates between a minority who are directly-employed by the education department, and have public service employment status, and a majority who are hired by school management boards, which determine their pay and conditions.
“In recent years, school secretaries have done everything short of industrial action in their campaign for pay equality. They welcome the many pledges of solidarity they’ve received from politicians of all colours, but these are totally disconnected from the reality of the department’s position, which is to constantly stall and disengage,” said Mr Pike.