Public Service Committee of ICTU vote to approve Lansdowne Road Agreement

The Public Services Committee (PSC) of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) has voted to approve the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

The deal was approved by an aggregate ballot of the PSC at a meeting on Wednesday 16th September 2015

The Lansdowne Road Agreement extends the main provisions of the Haddington Road Agreement until September 2018, and restores around €2,000 to the pay of most public servants in three phases between January 2016 and September 2017. The pay restoration will be achieved through a combination of adjustments to the public service pension levy and a partial reversal of the 2010 public service pay cuts.

Speaking to SIPTUhealth.ie Divisional Organiser Paul Bell said: “One of the main reasons SIPTU enjoyed a successful campaign and ballot supporting the Lansdowne Road Agreement is that our members had the opportunity to frame our agenda. Our members demanded job security and pay recovery. We have achieved those objectives and now move forward stronger and better together.

Throughout our consultation meetings around the country we made it clear the Lansdowne Road Agreement is the first step on the journey to repair the damage inflicted on our public health service and workers since the crash. Our members now have protection from outsourcing, a modest increase in their take home pay, our intern members working in the health service the opportunity of a permanent job and our nurses and midwives a freeze in professional fees.”

Bell said that the next step for SIPTU Health is to continue the conversation with shop stewards to organise the membership in demanding a fully resourced public health service that the Irish people deserve and can be proud of.

Individual unions balloted their members on the terms of the agreement through the summer months. The agreement was endorsed by members of the Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (INMO), SIPTU, the Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO), MLSA, TEEU and IMPACT. In recent days the Civil and Public Services Union (CPSU) and the Irish Federation of University Teachers (IFUT) also voted to approve the deal.

Shay Cody, General Secretary of IMPACT and chair of the PSC, said that the Lansdowne Road Agreement marked a significant step forward for workers after seven years of pay cuts, and reflected a growing trend for wage improvements across many sectors of the economy since 2014.

“Workers in the public and private sectors have faced huge challenges during the economic crisis. Pay improvements across all sectors are a crucial element of the country’s continuing economic recovery. More money in workers’ hands will largely be spent in the local economy, improving living standards and, most importantly, contributing to the job growth which has now developed,” he said.

To watch Paul Bell, Divisional Organiser speak on the Lansdowne Road Agreement click here

11/09/2015 Comments are off Patrick Cole

Trade unions say European Court ruling will provide protection against excessive working hours

The ICTU and SIPTU have said that a European Court ruling on Thursday (10th September), which found that travel time for employees with no fixed place of work should be counted as part of their working day, could benefit many workers in Ireland.

ICTU Industrial Officer, Fergus Whelan, said: “The ruling affects workers with no ‘fixed or habitual’ place of work. It requires a worker’s travel time between home and their first and last customer appointments in a working day to be considered in relation to the 48-hour maximum working week as legislated for under the EU Working Time Directive.”

He added: “Many employers in Ireland are already fair-minded about travel time for journeys to customers for workers. However, this sensible ruling will prevent unscrupulous employers from being able to force workers to work excessive hours which could include considerable time traveling to and from work.”

The ruling resulted from a case which was referred to the European Court of Justice by the Spanish National High Court involving the security installation firm, Tyco, which was not counting the journeys its workers made from their homes to customers’ premises as part of the working week.

The ruling does not affect workers daily commute to their normal place of work.

SIPTU calls on Minister to honour LRC proposal in Galway health workers dispute over unpaid wages

SIPTU members working as social care workers and social care leaders in County Galway have called on the Minister of Health, Leo Varadkar, to honour a Labour Relations Commission (LRC) proposal in a dispute concerning the payment of monies owed to them for evening work.

SIPTU Organiser, Mark Lohan, said: “Social care workers and social care leaders elsewhere in the country have always been paid increased rates of pay for work between 8.00 p.m. and midnight.

However, social care workers and social care leaders working for Ability West and the Brothers of Charity Services in Galway have not received monies that the Labour Court ruled were owed to them as compensation for these organisations failure to honour so-called ‘twilight payment’ rates.”

He added: “Following discussions at the LRC during July, an agreement was reached on a plan to resolve the issue of the monies owed for unpaid ‘twilight payments’ to our members in the Galway area.

The HSE and Department of Health have not signed off on the LRC proposal, preventing SIPTU from presenting it to our members for ratification.

“Due to the position taken by the HSE and Department of Health our members were regrettably left with no option but to commence industrial action.

“The workers are now calling on the Minister of Health, Leo Varadkar, to personally intervene so they are not forced to escalate their industrial action.

These workers want this dispute resolved as quickly as possible so they can maintain their full focus on their main priority which is providing the best standard of care possible for their clients.”

National Demonstration on the public water supply

A national demonstration concerning the future of the public water supply has been called for Saturday, 29th August, at 2.00 p.m. The assembly points are Heuston Station and Connolly Station, Dublin. Participants will then march to O’Connell Street.

Apart from the issue of water charges, it is understood that this protest will highlight the call for a referendum to amend the Constitution to prohibit the future privatisation of the public water supply and also to voice general opposition to austerity.

We in SIPTU have continuously opposed the one-sided austerity agenda and our policy on the public water supply is that:

  • There should be a referendum to amend the Constitution to prohibit the future privatisation of the public water supply.
  • Irish Water should be re-designated as a non-commercial, not for profit, State Company.
  • The work entailed in the provision of the public water supply should be carried out by workers employed on collectively bargained and agreed terms of employment in Irish Water and in the Local Authorities in accordance with current arrangements.
  • All householders should be provided with the amount of water they require to meet their normal domestic needs, at no cost, with a tariff thereafter on waste, as a conservation measure.

Accordingly, we encourage members to participate in this protest, of their own volition, if they are free and available to do so.

We believe that every peacefully conducted protest and democratic action has the potential to help further the demands for an adequate supply of water to meet the normal domestic needs of every household, at no direct cost, and a referendum to change the Constitution to prohibit the privatisation of the public water supply.

Statement issued by SIPTU General President, Jack O’Connor, SIPTU Vice-President, Gene Mealy and SIPTU General Secretary, Joe O’Flynn.

SIPTU calls for HSE intervention in staffing crisis in community units in Meath

SIPTU has called for senior Health Service Executive (HSE) officials to urgently intervene to resolve a staffing crisis at two community care units in County Meath which appears to have resulted in beds being left idle.
 
SIPTU Organiser, John McCamley, said: “This crisis began after the HSE refused to fill permanent nursing vacancies in St Joseph’s Hospital in Trim and Beaufort House in Navan a number of weeks ago. This crisis will compound the ongoing problems in local hospital emergency departments within the region.
 
“Presently, both units are understaffed to the equivalent of more than eight full-time staff nursing positions and one clinical nurse manager. There are a number of healthcare assistant posts which are also vacant. The situation has been made worse by the inability of local management to source adequate temporary agency cover.”
 
He added: “It is extraordinary and unacceptable that this situation has been allowed continue over the last number of weeks. It would seem that no senior officials in the HSE are willing to deal with it.
 
“Until the HSE properly resources and staffs community services, such as these units, hospital overcrowding will remain an acute problem. SIPTU has asked the HSE Head of Operations and Service Improvement for Older People, Michael Fitzgerald, to directly intervene in this situation. HSE management must reverse its decision not to fill these vacant posts and put emergency measures in place until new staff are recruited.”

SIPTU calls for review of investigation procedures at St. Anne’s centre

SIPTU has called for a review of the conduct of investigations and the use of administrative leave by the management of the St. Anne’s Centre for people with intellectual disabilities, Roscrea, County Tipperary.

 

The call follows the completion of a final report into allegations against eight care assistants at the facility that fully exonerated the workers of any misconduct and cleared them to return to work.

 

SIPTU Organiser, Mark Lohan, said: “Allegations against eight SIPTU Care Assistant members at the St. Anne’s Centre have been found to be without merit and as a result they are now preparing to return to work after eight months of administrative leave.

 

“It is a considerable relief to the SIPTU members affected, who comprise seven full-time members of staff and one agency worker, to have their names cleared and their good reputations restored. However, it has been a very difficult and traumatic eight months for these workers from the beginning of this investigation process until its conclusion. The allegations and related media coverage placed exceptional stress on them and their families.”

 

He added: “We have written to the management of the St. Anne’s Centre asking that it review the use of administrative leave in such circumstances. Management has also been asked to examine its policy on commissioning and executing ‘Trust in Care’ investigations, with a view to ensuring they are conducted in as reasonable a time as possible.

 

“SIPTU representatives will be meeting with the management of the St Anne’s Centre at the earliest opportunity to discuss these issues and ensure the necessary improvements are implemented.”

31/07/2015 Comments are off Patrick Cole

SIPTU members raise concerns over staffing levels in HSE community units in county Meath

SIPTU representatives have written to local and regional HSE management requesting that it reverses its decision not to fill vacant nursing posts in two community units in County Meath.

St Joseph’s Hospital in Trim and Beaufort House in Navan have a total of 8.14 whole-time equivalent (WTE) vacant nursing posts, including a clinical nurse manager.

There are also a small number of healthcare assistant posts which are vacant. Staff representatives were informed by management today that the nursing posts will not be filled and will, in effect, be lost.

SIPTU  members have also requested HSE management to carry out a risk assessment due to the number of vacant posts in both units.

SIPTU Organiser, John McCamley, said: “SIPTU members are at breaking point because of the staff shortages. It is incredible that this decision not to fill the nursing vacancies was taken unilaterally by management without any consultation or without a proper strategy to deal with the staffing gaps. The decision also seems to be one of a cost rather than patient-centred approach. We call on management to reverse this decision as soon as possible and to put in emergency measures until the posts can be filled.”

SIPTU members vote in favour of Lansdowne Road public service proposals

SIPTU members working in the public service have overwhelmingly accepted the Lansdowne Road proposals.

Members supported the proposals with 78.5% of votes cast in favour and 21.5% against.

SIPTU Vice-President, Gene Mealy, said: “The result is comprehensive and the clear feedback that was received from meetings to discuss the ballot across the country was that members see this agreement as progress.

However, it is also clear that there is still a long way to go in terms of the restoration and improvement of pay and conditions in the public service.”

SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser Paul Bell said: “We are pleased SIPTU has delivered a positive result for our members. We ran an active and visible campaign for the agreement. Our team of volunteers and activists spoke to thousands of members by phone and in workplaces encourage them to use their vote.

We also organised hundreds of new members into the union.”

Bell said the final result meant SIPTU can now move forward with confidence to the bigger challenges facing the public health service with the support of the majority of trade union members and activists.

“Every SIPTU Health member started this journey together on our Better Health Care, Better Jobs campaign platform. We intend on finishing the journey together and regaining the ground we lost step by step. This agreement will protect our members working in decent jobs in our public health service and get our members back on the road to real pay recovery.

SIPTU member, health worker and phone bank volunteer Beth Cunningham said: “We were never going to take this vote for granted. Every vote counts and every members voice matters. We contacted members around the country especially home care workers that live and work in isolated areas and encouraged them to vote.

We are very happy to have so much support from all SIPTU members working in the health service and our public services.

An increase in our pay, a commitment on protecting workers from outsourcing and the regularisation of interns will make a real difference in the lives of health workers,” she said.

SIPTU president says new Industrial Relations legislation will strengthen workers’ rights

SIPTU has stated that new measures contained in the Industrial Relations (Amendment) Bill 2015, which passed in the Dail on Thursday the 16th of July, will strengthen the rights of workers in Ireland.

SIPTU President, Jack O’Connor said: “The new legislation will strengthen the ability of workers to achieve collectively bargained norms in terms and conditions of employment for their sector. They will be able to exercise this right even in circumstances where an employer refuses to recognise or engage with their trade union.”

He added: “The legislation also re-introduces provisions by which unions and employers can conclude Registered Employment Agreements in individual enterprises. It also introduces an ability for unions to negotiate Sectoral Employment Orders which allow for the legal enforcement of standards in terms of pay and pension and sick pay provisions throughout an industry.”

“This legislation provides clear and balanced mechanisms to deal with specific industrial relations issues. As such it will benefit workers.”

A Progressive Alternative to USC

SIPTU has launched a proposal for “A Progressive Alternative to the Universal Social Charge” (USC).

It recommends that a new Social Solidarity Contribution, which would retain all the progressive elements of the existing USC charge as a highly effective and efficient mechanism for raising much-needed revenue from the wealthy and those on top incomes in Irish society, should be introduced.

Download full document here

See full press release here

Video of SIPTU President Jack O’Connor launching SSC here