Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has welcomed news that the Department of Education, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and the Fórsa Trade Union have come to an agreement that the issues facing schools secretaries, including unequal pay and lack of access to a pension scheme, will now be resolved.
Speaking today, Teachta Ó Laoghaire said: “School secretaries and caretakers played a crucial role in getting schools reopened for kids, and in continuing to keep the schools safe. They have a long list of essential roles and duties. Without them, schools would grind to a halt.
“Despite this, many secretaries across the country are facing enormous inequalities in terms of pay and working conditions. Pay varies radically from school to school.
“Some secretaries earn just €12,500 a year and are on irregular short-term contracts, which force them to sign on for social welfare during the summer holidays.
“As many do not qualify for pension entitlements, those looking ahead to retirement are understandably concerned as to how they will manage.
“For many school secretaries, this is therefore not just about fairness but potential hardship. Their incomes are so limited that they are extremely concerned for the future.
“I am glad that progress has been made, and that there is now agreement. It should never have come to the point that the caretakers and secretaries were considering industrial action.
“This issue has been dragging on for far too long, but I am glad that the government has now seen sense.
“However, the details of this will be crucially important. I know that secretaries, caretakers and their trade union will examine and monitor this carefully.
“We need to see delivery. Commitment is only worthwhile if it is followed through. This must be more than an aspiration – it has to deliver improvements in income and conditions in real terms.
“I also want to pay tribute to the Fórsa Trade Union for their work, and particularly to the secretaries and caretakers. It shows the value of trade union membership.”