Pictured at the ‘Support Our Secretaries’ meeting in Barlow House were (from left): Senator Ged Nash; Elizabeth Phelan, Secretary of the Forsa School Secretaries Branch; Joe O’Connor, Forsa’s Lead Organiser and Labour Local Election candidate and Forsa member Michelle Hall.
A public meeting organised by Senator Ged Nash last week heard calls for fair pay and job security for school secretaries across Louth and East Meath.
The packed meeting, supported by Forsa trade union took place in Barlow House and was addressed by the Secretary of the Forsa School Secretaries’ Branch Elizabeth Phelan, Joe O’Connor the union’s Lead Organiser and Senator Nash.
Speaking after the meeting, Senator Nash said: “It was standing room only last Thursday night. Over 60 people attended the meeting, mostly school secretaries but encouragingly for the campaign, a number of local school principals, teachers and SNAs also took the time to come and support the calls for respect and job security for our school administrators.
“Of the 3,5000 school administrators employed across the country, under 10% are direct employees of the Department of Education. The bulk of school secretaries, along with their caretaker and cleaner colleagues, are the poor relations in the education system.
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“Employed directly by Boards of Management and paid from the ancillary grant received by the school, the most extreme cases see some secretaries earn as little as Euro 12,700 per annum.
“For most school secretaries in the system, there is no security of employment, no occupational pension and a requirement to go on the dole during the summer holidays.
“They are in effect second-class employees who are doing a first class job. The Forsa trade union campaign seeks to persuade the government to end this unfair and unsustainable situation and to make all school secretaries public servants, just like the teaching colleagues they work alongside.
“School secretaries are absolutely pivotal to the smooth and professional running of our schools. They are managers, administrators, accountants, counsellors and much more.
“At the most basic level they should be entitled to job security, certainty over their incomes, protection when they are ill and a pension when they retire.
“I fully support the campaign for respect and dignity for our school secretaries and I am pleased that other public representatives such as Fergus O’Dowd TD, Cllr. Pio Smith and local area representative and SNA Michelle Hall attended the meeting to show their support for the ‘Support Our Secretaries’ campaign.”
To sign the petition to support the campaign see: www.forsa.ie/support-our-secretaries-campaign/ .