12 July 2007 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe

Eircom workers set to strike

As An Phoblacht goes to press, the Communications Workers’ Union (CWU) is expected to serve Eircom with a strike notice.
The action arises from the company’s decision to withhold pay increases agreed in the latest partnership deal unless employees accept new working arrangements.
A ballot of CWU members, released on Monday, showed that 96.7% favoured the action.
CWU General Secretary Steve Fitzpatrick has described Eircom’s position as “hostile” and “regrettable”, and said that a meeting would be held with other unions representing Eircom workers to discuss how to progress the claim.
Sinn Féin Workers’ Rights Spokesperson Arthur Morgan TD said Sinn Féin fully supported the CWU decision.
“It is totally unacceptable that management at Eircom are attempting to use an already agreed pay rise as a bargaining chip to introduce changes to work practices. Workers at Eircom have had to cope with rising inflation and rising interests rates over recent months while waiting for increases due under a Pay Agreement which is now is almost a year old. It is clear why workers will not tolerate this situation continuing any longer”, Morgan said.
“If any inconvenience is caused to Eircom customers due to the impending industrial action, the fault will lie directly with management at the company who are acting in a grossly irresponsible manor. I am calling on Eircom to pay its staff the increases due to them under the National Pay Agreement without any further delay. Only then can any discussion be had on changes to work practices. The pay increase cannot be re-negotiated ad must be paid and back dated now”, he said.

Nurses win pay increase

Nurses in the Six Counties have been awarded a 2.5% pay increase, effective immediately and backdated to 1 April.
Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Health Caral Ní Chuilin MLA welcomed the decision, saying that it “reflects the contribution nurses make to Irish society”.
Meanwhile, in the 26 Counties, concerns have been expressed that restrictive immigration laws are driving migrant nurses away.
Filipino Forum magazine reports that more than 100 immigrant nurses – mainly Filipinos – responded to a recent recruitment drive by the Canadian health sector. Another such drive will be held in Dublin next week.
Migrant nurses in North America are offered permanent residence visas, while in the 26 Counties they must endure several years of ‘temporary worker’ status and their children are denied access to reduced third level fees.

Trial begins in Colombian death squad case

A trial has begun in the US state of Alabama against a locally-based coal company charged with paying right-wing paramilitaries to kill three Colombian trade union leaders.
Valmore Locarno, Victor Orcasita and Gustavo Soler of the mining union Sintramienergetica were forced off buses and killed by masked gunmen in 2001. They had been involved in a dispute with Drummond Company Inc over pay and safety issues. A former Colombian intelligence officer, as well as three other witnesses, have implicated Drummond in the contract killings.
The Alien Tort Claims Act allows American companies to be sued in US courts for human rights violations abroad.  This is the first case that has gone to trial and could serve as an important precedent.
At least 2,245 trade unionists have been killed in Colombia since 1991. A recent Amnesty International report found that those involved in labour disputes and anti-privatisation campaigns were particularly at risk.

Mandatory drug testing to become law

Legislation is being drafted to force workers in certain sectors to undergo random drug testing, a 26 County Health and Safety Authority spokesperson has confirmed.
An increasing number of private companies have already introduced this policy, including at least two financial services institutions based at Dublin’s IFSC. Most testing is carried out in-house, with positive results – returned in only about 5% of cases – sent to a laboratory for further analysis.
Last week’s ICTU conference voted to oppose mandatory alcohol testing, which it described as an abuse of human rights.

An Phoblacht
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Dublin 1

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