Sinn Féin spokesperson on Education, Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD, has expressed his solidarity with the school secretaries and caretakers, who continue their decades-long campaign for pay equality with strike action tomorrow.
The Cork South Central TD said:
“I fully support the school secretaries and caretakers in their decades-long campaign for pay equality, improved working conditions and pension entitlements.
“Strike action is the last thing that secretaries and caretakers wanted. They have been forced after years of poor treatment and inaction by successive governments, after years of barely scraping by on irregular, short-term contracts, and having to sign on during the summer holidays.
“The insulting offer put forward by the Ministers for Education and Public Expenditure at the WRC in July, which was far from securing pay equality, was the last straw.
“The highest point of the pay scale, offered for secretaries being €12,000 below the highest pay grade for their ETB counterparts, is disrespectful and insulting.
“More shocking still, the ministers did not put forward any offer at all to address the long-standing unequal treatment of school caretakers.
“The government’s behaviour is particularly frustrating, given the Tánaiste gave a commitment back in October in the Dáil that his government would address this, and finally secure pay equality and pension entitlements for secretaries.
“It is now obvious that this was an attempt to pull the wool over secretaries’ eyes.
“Secretaries and caretakers are not asking for the earth; all they want is the pay equality, improved working conditions and pensions that they are entitled to.
“The government cannot continue to bury their heads in the sand and hope that this will go away.
“Sinn Féin are calling on the government to urgently clarify whether the Tánaiste’s remarks last October committing the government to securing pay equality remains the government policy in this area, and if not, why not.
“We call on the Ministers for Education and Public Expenditure to put forward an offer to school secretaries and caretakers securing not only pay equality, but improved working conditions and pension entitlements equal to their counterparts who are paid outside of the ancillary grant, and a clear timeline for delivery of this.
“As long as the government continues to ignore the demands of school secretaries and caretakers, I am sure that that campaign will continue through tomorrow and beyond, and I and my colleagues in Sinn Féin will continue to support the secretaries and caretakers all the way.”