School secretaries and caretakers have secured an agreement to have their pay, working conditions and pensions regularised, bringing an end to an ‘unjust’ two-tier system.
A long-running dispute has sought to end a decades-old system which leaves most school secretaries earning salaries as low as €12,500 a year. Approximately 90% of school secretaries who are not employed directly by the Department of Education & Skills have irregular, short-term contracts that force them to sign on during the holidays.
A preliminary agreement was reached on the issue yesterday following talks at the Workplace Relations Commission between Fórsa trade union and the Department of Education and Skills. Detailed discussions will be the next step and Fórsa’s head of education, Andy Pike, said all sides had agreed that the change in Government policy was welcome.
Fórsa had warned that school secretaries would stage several days of strike action in the coming months aimed at ending the dispute, but this action was deferred pending the WRC talks.
Donegal Minister McConalogue has welcomed the news that school secretaries and caretakers on low pay with no job security are to have their conditions of employment regularised: “This is excellent news for school secretaries and caretakers who are an integral and important part of each school community. This year the education sector has been tested but the work of school secretaries and caretakers has been invaluable to each school community.
“This is positive progress that has been reached at the WRC and I would like to commend my colleague Minister Norma Foley for her continued work on this dispute. The dispute centres on a two-tier pay system for school secretaries and caretakers, but it is positive to see the open dialogue between all parties now on this now and we must continue to do so in the months ahead.
“We value the contributions of school secretaries and caretakers in their roles and helping to support teaching staff during these difficult times,” concluded Minister McConalogue.