INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY ARTHUR O'HAGAN, SOLICITORS)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Application of the Department Of Education and Science National School Secretary pay scale.
2. The issue in dispute concerns the rate of pay which is paid to the school secretary. This issue was raised in 1998 and was referred to the Labour Relations Commission in 1999. A conciliation conference was held on the 16th of February, 2000. The Union is claiming that the secretary, who is paid £4.74 per hour for a 20 hour week, should be remunerated according to the Department of Education and Science National School Secretary pay scale, which ranges from £9,731 to £18,348 over 16 points.
The issue could not be resolved at the Labour Relations Commission and it was referred to the Labour Court on the 15th of March, 2000, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute in Wexford on the 12th of May, 2000.
3. 1. The employee concerned is working for the school for the past ten years. A pay scale for school secretaries already exists and is paid by the Department of Education and Science to other school secretaries. It is logical to apply that pay scale to the claimant.
2. Management claims that it does not have the funding to pay the increase claimed. However, no other school employees would be expected to accept a similar situation.
3. As the employer, the school has an obligation and a responsibility to pay the correct rate for the job. It should view the per capita grant it receives as a contribution to the correct salary rather than the total amount.
4. 1. The school's financial resources are strictly limited. It receives a capitation grant based on the number of pupils to pay for secretarial and caretaking assistance. The school also supplements this grant to pay the present secretary and caretaker.
2. The Union's claim refers to a scheme which was introduced in 1978/79. This scheme is being phased out since 1983, and only 200 schools are now paid under this scheme.
3. Management applied to the Department of Education and Science on the 3rd of March, 2000, for funding to employ a full time secretary and a full time caretaker. The application was refused. However, the school will receive an increased capitation grant which may allow an increase in the hourly rate to be paid and/or an increase in hours worked.
The Court is conscious in reviewing this claim that similar cases exist in many schools.
The background to this dispute lies in the Government Embargo on recruitment at a time of financial problems nationally. Unfortunately, the issue has not been addressed since, and it has been left to each employer to negotiate individual salaries for secretaries and caretakers, depending on the school's ability to subvent the Government grants provided for these posts.
However, it is clear to the Court that circumstances have changed significantly over the years and that posts such as this one are now essential to a modern educational system.
The Court notes the Employer's commitment to enter into immediate discussions with a view to agreeing an improved package for the claimant in this school. The Court recommends that these discussions take place and be completed within four weeks, but given the changed situation prevailing nationally, the Court recommends that the issues raised by this dispute be addressed on a national basis.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
26th May, 2000______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.