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School secretaries vote for industrial action over wage cuts

72 per cent of school secretaries and caretakers vote for industrial action over a 5 per cent pay cut imposed in January.

IRELAND’S SCHOOL SECRETARIES and caretakers have voted in favour of industrial action, in protest at pay cuts introduced at the start of this year.

At a ballot held yesterday by the trade union IMPACT, 72 per cent of secretaries voted in favour of the proposed action, following an instruction by the Department of Education and Skills to cut the wages of low-paid staff by 5 per cent.

IMPACT said the cuts had affected around 17,000 people and that the union wanted to have “these unjust and unfair pay cuts reversed”.

The union’s assistant general secretary, Brendan McKay, said the affected staff were not on the department’s own payroll, but were indirectly paid through grants received by the schools and VECs.

The pay cuts had been demanded by the Department in line with cuts to public services pay introduced in the Budget, and asked for a 5 per cent cut in the gross salaries of those earning under €30,000 a year.

McKay added that a “two-tier system” was currently in operation, where secretaries hired before a national pay deal in 1990 were employed directly by the Department – while those employed afterwards were paid by grants.

As a result, staff hired before 1990 had a standardised rate of pay while those hired since were on uneven pay grades – with some, McKay said, earning barely more than the minimum wage.

“The employers had consistently blocked any attempts to link these workers rates of pay to the public service, but saw fit to establish a link in order to make a savage cut to their pay,” McKay said.

No indication has been given, as yet, as to when the action may be taken.