News & Media

SNAs must be treated with respect – Dept should suspend 72 hours requirement during the pandemic

13 November 2020

Statement by Aodhán Ó Ríordáin TD
Spokesperson on Education, Enterprise and Trade
Aodhan

Labour Education Spokesperson Aodhán Ó Ríordáin has called on the Department of Education to suspend the requirement on SNAs to work the additional 72 hours under the Public Service Pay Agreement during the Covid crisis.

Deputy Ó Ríordáin was speaking after a letter was sent from the Department of Education to schools outlining that the 72 hours additional duties are now compulsory:

“The Department should suspend the 72 hours requirement for the duration of the Covid crisis. I am really frustrated with the complete lack of respect afforded to SNAs; no other public sector workers are treated like this. SNAs should be treated with respect and not like skivvies. Having these essential workers on site for longer than is absolutely necessary should not happen during the pandemic.

“This an attack by the Department of Education on relatively low paid workers who will be forced to do additional work above what is absolutely necessary during the worst public health crisis in a generation while many other public servants are being afforded the opportunity to work from home.

“These people work with vulnerable children and should not be forced to take on additional administrative work in the middle of Level 5 Covid restrictions. I welcome the fact that Fórsa are to seek an urgent scheduling of the WRC hearing on this matter as this is a disgraceful way to treat Special Needs Assistants especially given that some are now reliant on getting an adequate supply of PPE from a trade union and not from their employer.

“The fact that the Department felt the need to include a threat of disciplinary action against SNAs in the letter to schools is further evidence of the complete lack of respect shown to these vital workers.

“Minister Foley must intervene now and order the Department to issue new advice suspending the 72 hours for the duration of the Covid crisis. SNAs play a vital role in our education system and do not deserve to be treated like an afterthought by the Department of Education.