Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Education, Thomas Byrne has called on the Department to engage with school secretaries ahead of their planned industrial action which is due to begin tomorrow.

Deputy Byrne said the situation was allowed to get to this point as a result of Government inaction and that school secretaries felt that they had no other option other than to strike.

He said, “Make no mistake about it, the industrial action which begins tomorrow is going to cause major hardship for schools across the country. School secretaries are vital to the successful running of a school.

“To date they haven’t been treated with the respect they deserve and 90% of school secretaries do not have the same safeguards in place as the other 10% who are employed directly by the Department.

“They are often at a great disadvantage when it comes to sick leave, certainty of hours or pay increases. Many will have spent the summer months on social welfare.

“What’s particularly galling about this situation is the fact that the Workplace Relations Commission had mandated that talks would take place this year between Government and the Unions.

“Instead of engaging with that process as a matter of priority, the Government have dragged their heels and no resolution is in sight”, he concluded.