09 January, 2020 – Minister appeals to FÓRSA trade union to defer industrial action

Statement by the Minister for Education and Skills Joe McHugh TD:

“I place a huge value and importance of the work and role of school secretaries and caretakers and other support staff in the running of our schools.

“I have spoken to many secretaries about their employment conditions and understand the issues they have raised.

“I have been on record since being appointed Minister for Education and Skills of the need for deep engagement on this issue and in September the Fórsa trade union requested the Department to agree to use the services of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). We agreed to do this – it is normal practice to use the industrial relations machinery of the State in these situations.

“There has been engagement with Fórsa under the auspices of the WRC and while the trade union has not withdrawn from the talks both sides acknowledge that there is still some distance between us as we seek a resolution.

“The Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform are reflecting on the latest discussions.

“But we are disappointed that the union is pushing ahead with industrial action which will impact on the day-to-day operation of schools, including potentially the pay of teachers and SNAs.

“I am appealing to Fórsa to reconsider their decision, to defer their action and to re-engage with the two departments at the WRC.

“We are fully open to further dialogue with Fórsa. The only way this situation will be resolved is with the help of the WRC.

“Disputes such as this can only be solved by the parties sitting around the table together and trying to reach mutually acceptable solutions. Both sides will have their own positions, but compromise is necessary or nothing would ever be resolved.

“In terms of the impact on schools, my officials will continue to assess the situation, in conjunction with the school management bodies.”