The Government has until today (Friday) to complete a data gathering exercise aimed at costing the regularisation of pay and working conditions for school secretaries and caretakers.
The deadline was confirmed last week in a joint statement issued after a WRC-brokered meeting between Fórsa, the education department, school management bodies and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.
The last round of talks on the issue took place in late April, with the union reporting very limited progress. Fórsa assistant general secretary Shane Lambert said the WRC had requested a clear set of proposals from the education department ahead of last week’s WRC engagement.
The joint statement issued last Friday (14th May) said: "It is vital that any proposals are fully and properly costed on the basis of complete information relating to current actual numbers of workers involved and have regard to the state of the public finances and the repercussive effects of any such proposals for other grant-funded groups of non-public servants."
The two departments are currently engaged in a process to gather sufficient data to inform the approach to be taken, and the joint statement confirmed that this process is to conclude today, allowing the parties to continue discussions, with the assistance of the WRC if necessary.
Fórsa’s head of education Andy Pike said the conclusion of the data gathering exercise was critical to the next phase of discussions: “This process must produce a meaningful result for school secretaries and caretakers.
“After years of being pushed to the margins of our education system, the political system finally acknowledged the central role of these workers last Autumn, when the Tánaiste Leo Varadkar told the Dáil it was this Government’s intention to finally address this issue.
“What this process cannot afford is there to be any foot-dragging at this stage. School secretaries and caretakers took industrial action just before the pandemic struck, and that mandate remains.
“Either we are now in the final stages of this process and will be able to take meaningful proposals to our members for a ballot, or else we are in a fight with the employer. Either way, it means we are at a critical point in this process,” he said.
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