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School secretaries and caretakers being paid under minimum wage - Doherty

8 April, 2008

Sinn Féin Senator Pearse Doherty has said the Department of Education cannot wash its hands of its responsibility to ensure equal pay and conditions for all those employed in the education sector. Senator Doherty was speaking today after receiving detailed information regarding the pay and conditions of employment for school secretaries and caretakers. He said many secretaries and caretakers are being paid under the minimum wage.

Senator Doherty said today, "The vast majority of school secretaries and caretakers in this state are employed by school management boards. However, while their counterparts, who are employed directly by the Department of Education, enjoy a standard rate of pay, those employed by management boards are not afforded the same entitlements.

"I am aware that many school secretaries around the state are being paid less than the minimum wage.

"This problem arises out of the introduction of the Programme for Economic and Social Progress (PESP) in 1990. Those staff employed after the introduction of this programme are paid out of the ancillary grant given to school boards out of which their school expenses are paid. Those staff employed before the introduction of this programme are paid directly by the Department of Education.

"Staff employed after the introduction of PESP are not afforded access to the pay terms of the National Pay Awards. They have no access to incremental pay increases and they have no access to cost of living increases. They have no access to pension schemes or PRSA, no access to sick leave schemes and no access to promotional opportunities.

"This situation is completely unacceptable. The Minister for Education Mary Hanafin cannot wash her hands of responsibility to ensure that all staff employed in the education sector enjoy equal pay and conditions of employment. I do not accept for one minute the excuse that these employees are not employed by the Department and do not fall under its responsibility." ENDS

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