Forsa’s School Secretaries’ branch suspended its industrial action this week following confirmation that their employers would be represented in negotiations at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). The union said the decision that representatives of the schools that employ the secretaries removed any barrier to the talks taking place under the Industrial Relations Acts.
The industrial action had been in place since Friday 20th September.
In a memo to members of the branch earlier this week, Fórsa’s head of education Andy Pike said the union had received written confirmation that school management bodies will fully participate in WRC negotiations.
They also said they would recommend acceptance of any outcome to individual school boards of management, so long as the education department agreed to fund any agreement.
Andy added: “The WRC has now requested that our industrial action be suspended to enable talks to proceed. Fórsa has agreed to suspend the work to rule, which was suspended from Tuesday afternoon.”
Talks in the WRC will now take place today (Thursday) and are expected to continue for a number of weeks. Fórsa will continue to press the department for an agreement which ends the two tier pay system for school secretaries.
Andy paid tribute to the members who had stuck with the work to rule. “Since our campaign started in January membership has increased by over 40% and continues to grow. The industrial action has served a purpose in gaining us access to the WRC with the employers’ representatives and the department at the negotiating table,” he said.
The union has advised members to deal with any backlog of work arising from the dispute within a reasonable timescale: “Any requests for additional hours to be worked to clear a backlog should only be facilitated on the basis that overtime is paid or an alternative arrangement is in place acceptable to the secretary,” said Andy
He said the union would request an extension to the P/POD deadlines and advised any member put under pressure by management to contact the branch executive as soon as possible.