Major administrative disruption is expected tomorrow (Friday) as school secretaries begin a campaign of industrial action over pay and conditions.
The staff represented by Fórsa say they have been victims of an “antiquated and discriminatory” two-tier pay system since 1978.
The union says that some secretaries employed by school management boards can earn as little as €12,500 a year, and only have non-permanent contracts, leaving them obliged to sign-on over the summer when schools are closed.
A meeting on Wednesday morning with the Department of Education ended without agreement.
Fórsa said that school secretaries would engage in a brief one-hour work stoppage at the start of the school day on Friday.
“Secretaries will protest outside their school, or may join with colleagues at another school protest for the duration of the stoppage.”
“Protests will take place at 250 schools across the country, while up to a thousand schools are expected to be affected by the stoppage.”
“Thereafter they will commence a significant work to rule.”
The Department of Education described the planned industrial action as “premature and unwarranted”.
It urged Fórsa to reconsider the stoppage and work-to-rule, adding that it remains fully open to having further dialogue once the accurate cost of the claim had been calculated.
A spokesperson for the Department of Education said officials had met Fórsa representatives in late May, when the union had formally tabled a claim seeking public service pay scales, year-round working patterns and access to a public service pension scheme for secretaries and caretakers employed directly by schools, and whose salaries are funded from grants.
He said these demands were tabled as a follow-on claim a 2016-2019 pay agreement, which provided for a 10% pay increase over that period, and a higher minimum hourly rate of €13.
He noted that that deal does not expire until December.