Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has said the unacceptable two tier pay structure for school secretaries cannot be allowed to continue. The Sinn Féin TD was commenting following representations made from school secretary representatives who are campaigning to address the pay discrepancies and work anomalies.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“Roughly 10% of the 3,500 school secretaries across the country are employed by the Department of Education, with the remaining 90% paid through school funding. There is a huge divergence in wages ranging from €35,000 to €10,900, and most of them are in precarious employment.

“The marked differences in salaries are because of the various methods in which the secretaries are paid: some get a salary directly from the Department of Education worth between €24,000 and €31,000, while others are paid through an ‘ancillary grant’ that is given to a school’s board of management. The current rate at which the larger group is paid is €11.50 an hour.

“The secretaries on lower income also do not enjoy the same benefits as their state paid counterparts.  They currently have no job safeguards, no occupational pensions, no sick leave entitlements, no incremental pay scale increases, and they have to go through the process of signing on for jobseekers during school holidays.

“This discrepancy in pay and conditions has been allowed drift and is wrong in so many areas. The two-tier secretarial pay was created in the 1970s and 1980s. In 1978, a secretarial and caretaking assistance scheme was set up to pay secretaries.

“Consecutive Ministers for Education have let this drift and because of the funding implications have failed to tackle or get to grips with this glaring anomaly, and recognise the work of all school secretaries.

“School secretaries are the heart of the school system and expected to take on huge responsibilities, from complex administration to organising school events and training days. It is not unknown for some of them to operate in offices no more than a pokey cupboard.”

Crowe concluded:

“Members of the trade union Fórsa are involved in a state wide campaign to instigate a change to secretaries pay called: SOS: ‘Support our Secretaries’. I want to publicly support their just demands.

“The current anomaly in pay and conditions needs to be addressed urgently and the current two tier system eliminated. The Department of Education must implement measures that would provide for entitlements and protections equivalent to clerical staff on public service pay scales.”