Public services union Fórsa has suspended industrial action by school secretaries planned to begin on 23 October. This was to be part of a long-running campaign to end a two-tier pay system that leaves most school secretaries earning just €12,500 a year, with irregular, short-term contracts that force them to sign on to receive benefits during the summer holidays and other school breaks. Following a commitment from the government the union has agreed to talks at the Workplace Relations Commission which will begin on 27 October.
Unions suspends school secretaries' strike
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After three weeks the national strike by school staff has been suspended but the ZNP teachers' union is determined to maintain its campaign for more funding for education and better pay for teachers and other school workers. The union says that the first stage of the strike was a success in putting education at the centre of the national debate and highlighting the low levels of pay across the sector. While the union has secured a 10% pay increase it remains committed to higher pay as well as aiming for major reforms of the education system and getting a commitment to increased funding.
Following the strike action by school secretaries on 10 January and subsequent industrial action (work-to-rule), Forsa their trade union has agreed to return to talks with the government that are being held by the Workplace Relations Committee conciliation service. The strike action is over the poor pay and conditions suffered by around 2000 school secretaries employed on precarious contracts by local schools (see last issue of EPSU Collective Bargaining News). Forsa is looking for real and significant progress in the talks otherwise the industrial action will re-start.
School secretaries organised by the Fórsa trade union planned a one-day strike on 10 January and further industrial action in support of their campaign for pay justice (see EPSU CB News 17 and 18, September 2019). Nine out of 10 school secretaries are employed by their local school, are paid less than EUR 12500 a year and have precarious employment conditions. In contrast, one in 10 are directly employment by the department of education and have the appropriate pay and conditions of public servants. EPSU sent a message of solidarity.