Up to 30 schools have been challenged by IMPACT trade union for withholding a 2.5% pay increase due to school secretaries since the beginning of 2017.
An arbitration finding in 2015 recommended four separate pay rises of 2.5 per cent for school secretaries and caretakers, who are paid from grant funding, between 2016 and 2019.
Eileen Barry, secretary of IMPACT’s School Secretaries branch, told the union’s education conference today (Thursday 20th April) that the union had been made aware of schools withholding the payment almost every week since the 2.5% increase was due on 1st January 2017.
“We’ve had to take individual schools to task because they’ve withheld the payment from their school secretary. This is despite the Department of Education and Skills making the funding available to apply the increase,” she said.
Ms Barry explained, “Because individual boards of management determine the pay and conditions of the school secretary we actually have a chaotic, multi-tiered, system running all over the country, where no national standard exists.
“School secretaries work in isolation, and keeping them away from one another is a great way of keeping them isolated when it comes to fair and equal pay. For too many employers, it’s stuff they don’t think about all that often. That’s not good enough,” she said.
IMPACT official Barry Cunnigham said the union continues to recruit school secretaries to its membership in order to ensure school secretaries received the pay improvements due under the arbitration. “Because of the isolated nature of their work, non-union school secretaries are often unaware that they’re entitled to this pay increase. Unfortunately this leaves them in a vulnerable position. That’s what we’re working to change,” he said.
IMPACT deputy general secretary Kevin Callinan has previously said that devolving powers over pay to individual schools reduces transparency and gives rise to an “erratic and unfair two-tier pay system in which some non-teaching staff are treated as second-class citizens who are treated as public servants only for the purposes of pay cuts and not of pay.”
In her remarks to conference, cathaoirleach of the division Gina O’Brien said “On entering any school, the school secretary is the first person to greet and assist you. Yet many still linger on grant paid arrangements. This condemns hundreds of our colleagues to low pay.”