School secretaries, represented by Fórsa trade union, have outlined their experience of poor pay and uncertain short-term contracts to a hearing of the Oireachtas Education Committee.
The committee was meeting to discuss the status of non-teaching staff in schools, and sought written submissions from all stakeholders.
In its submission to the committee, Fórsa, a new trade union formed in January last year, said most school secretaries - who are almost exclusively women - are very poorly paid, with uncertain short-term contracts that force many of them to sign on the dole during the summer holidays.
The head of Fórsa’s Education division, Andy Pike, said:
“The routine work carried out by school secretaries in many instances far exceed the limits of responsibility as set out in the clerical officer job descriptions used by the Public Appointments Service for the purposes of recruiting new clerical officers across the public service.”
The majority of school secretaries and caretakers are paid from ancillary grants and are not deemed to be public servants.
Mr Pike added: “The majority of school secretaries, around 90%, work alongside colleagues with full public service status, but are locked out of the system without holiday pay, sick pay, pensions or access to public service salary scales."