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Education Minister must ensure equal rights for school secretaries and caretakers - Doherty

5 June, 2008

Sinn Féin Education Spokesperson Senator Pearse Doherty has described the treatment of school secretaries and caretakers by the Department of Education as akin to the treatment of agency workers by private companies.

Senator Doherty was speaking at the Oireachtas Education Committee which heard today from members of SIPTU and Impact how secretaries and caretakers employed after 1990 are receiving disparate rates of pay and conditions with some of them even getting paid less than the minimum wage.

He said, "Sinn Féin first raised, in the Dáil and the Seanad, the issue of discrimination against school secretaries and caretakers by the Department of Education back in April when the issue first came to light. For the Department to put the blame for this issue on the voluntary school boards is an outrageous and shameful act of diversion. The treatment of these workers by the Department of Education has been akin to the treatment of agency workers by many private companies.

"School secretaries and caretakers have now balloted for industrial action and a series of one day work stoppages will begin in my home County of Donegal on 17th June. While nobody wanted to see this situation develop the Department has had ample time to fix the situation and have not done so. These workers should not have to put up with this situation any longer and Sinn Féin will be supporting their campaign including whatever industrial action they decide to take.

"This issue needs to be resolved at the earliest opportunity. Schools are already under immense pressure due to under-funding and cannot afford to be without secretaries and caretakers. I am calling on new Education Minister Batt O'Keeffe to immediately intervene in this dispute and ensure equal pay and conditions for all school secretaries and caretakers." ENDS

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