Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education, Thomas Byrne has called on the Minister for Education to reengage with representatives of school secretaries and caretakers ahead of further strike action due to take place this week.

School secretaries are set to hold a national one-day stoppage on January 10th following the end of Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) negotiations in December which resulted in an offer of a 1.5% pay rise.

Following the end of these talks, Forsa trade union, which represents school secretaries and caretakers had said that the gap between the two sides remained too wide to avert strike action.

Deputy Byrne said, “It is regrettable that Friday will see another day of work stoppages by school secretaries and caretakers. It is all the more disappointing because the Minister for Education acknowledged the points made by school secretaries over six months ago, committed to developing a comprehensive pathway to address them, and then made an offer which does nothing of the sort.

“This is fundamentally a dispute about equal pay for equal work. We cannot have a situation where two people doing the same job, to the same standard, in the same workplace, earn vastly different amounts. The offer made by the Department of Education will not address that, nor does it provide a plan for how it will be addressed.

“The Minister has continually built up the expectations of school secretaries. He now has a responsibility to deliver for them in accordance with his promises.

“The work school secretaries do is vital for the day to day running of schools. They are expected to take on more responsibilities than ever, from assisting principals with complex administration, to organising fundraising for school events.

“The Minister has already proposed the solution, he now needs to deliver on his promise,” he concluded.