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25 May 2006 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe

Massive increase in employers denying holiday rights

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Employment and Workers Rights, Arthur Morgan TD, has described as 'deeply disturbing' the revelation, in reply to a parliamentary question from the Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, that there was a five fold increase in the number of employers found to be in breach of both annual leave entitlements and public holiday entitlements.

Deputy Morgan said, "The Minister revealed that in 2005, 89 employers were found to be in breach of public holiday entitlements compared to 17 in 2003. He also revealed that 40 employers were found to be in breach of annual leave entitlements in 2005 compared to 8 in 2003. This represents a five fold increase in both cases and is deeply disturbing.

"These figures cannot be put down to increased vigilance from the labour inspectorate in light of the fact that there were only 5,719 inspections in 2005 compared to 7,168 in 2003.

"It is clear that the failure of enforcement and compliance mechanisms is sending a message to employers that they can do what they like. Employers are clearly taking advantage of the weak enforcement regime and this cannot be allowed to continue."

NIPSA protest 'privatisation gone mad'

NIPSA General Secretary John Corey has described the proposed sell off of 530 civil service jobs as 'privatisation gone mad'. He was speaking ahead of a protest organised by the union at Dundonald House on the Stormont Estate on Tuesday.

Speaking to the rally of civil servants Kieran Bannon, Assistant General Secretary of the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance, condemned a policy which would result in the loss of at least 80 civil service offices being gifted to the private sector.

The privatisation policy - known as 'Workplace 2010' will lead, by that date, to the private sector obtaining 80 buildings which would then be leased back to the Civil Service for a 25 year period, after which they could be re-sold for private profit, even though their services would have been paid for out of public funds over that period. 530 people face the possible loss of their jobs.

"This isn't just selling the family silver, it's selling the family homes and family members therein," said Mr Bannon.

"NIPSA does not accept that a value for money case has been proven or that the private sector will provide a higher standard of service than our members currently provide. Once again we are experiencing an attack on some of our lowest paid members, this time in the support grades."

Workplace bullying affects thousands

More than 9,000 workers in the Six Counties complained of suffering from bullying in the workplace according to figures released by the Labour Relations Agency (LRA).

The announcement was made at a conference held in Belfast co-organised by the LRA and the Equality Commission where a new guide will be launched in an effort to deal with the problem.

Harassment is the most common form of complaint that comes before the Equality Commission, making up a quarter of all complaints and included harassment on the grounds of sex, race, religion and political opinion.

Pat McCartan, Chairman of the Labour Relations Agency said bullying not only affected employees but their families as well.

"The LRA receives 9,000 enquiries per year relating specifically to bullying," he said.

"However, this is just the tip of the iceberg as bullying, harassment and stress in the workplace are elements in the majority of enquiries to the LRA."

One-day strike at FÁS

Staff at the FÁS office on Baggot Street in Dublin staged a one-day work stoppage on Tuesday as part of their ongoing campaign of opposition to the proposed decentralisation scheme that would see many workers facing transfer to Birr, county Offaly, or a loss of promotion prospects.

As An Phoblacht went to press, similar actions at other FÁS head offices were also planned for this week. These protests follow a range of pickets and work-to-rules by SIPTU over the last couple of months as part of an intensive campaign by the union.

Talks at the Labour Relations Commission aimed at resolving the dispute ended without agreement on Tuesday morning.

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