Sinn Féin candidate for Dublin South West, Seán Crowe, has reiterated his support for school secretaries in their ‘Support Our Secretaries’ campaign for fair treatment, respect and improved working conditions.

Seán Crowe said: “School secretaries are invaluable members of our schools and our communities, often working above and beyond their job requirements. “They work on the front line and are the first port of call for parents and students. Without them, our schools would simply not function. “I want to reiterate that their industrial action and campaign for respect and fair conditions for all school secretaries has the full support of myself and Sinn Féin. “At its heart, this dispute centres on the fact that the majority of school secretaries, over three thousand, earn as little as €13,000 a year with irregular, short-term contracts and no pay during summer holidays or school breaks. “This is compounded by the inequality that persists between them and the few hundred school secretaries who are paid directly by the Department of Education with starting salaries of €24,000.”

Crowe continued: “Minister Joe McHugh was made aware of their job insecurity and this two-tier pay structure in May of last year and has dragged his heels in reaching an agreement. “The Minister will claim that specific responsibility for the pay and conditions of these workers rests with schools through the capitation grants they receive, and not his Department. “As the Government knows well, schools rely on the capitation grant to cover running costs such as heating, lighting, insurance costs, and teaching materials. “Secretaries have low pay, no holiday pay, no sick pay, no real job security, certainly no occupational pensions, and no access to public service salary scales. A Sinn Féin government will end this unfair system. “The public service should be a leader in providing fair pay and conditions for employees, but school secretaries have clearly been left far behind when it comes to pay and working conditions”