18 March 2010 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe

999 services may strike over safety fears

FIREFIGHTERS and ambulance crews are considering all-out strike action, shutting down airports, over complaints that they are working in unsafe conditions because of staff cutbacks.
If it goes ahead, it will be the first all-out strike by the fire service in the 26 Counties in more than 20 years.
SIPTU official John Kidd said that Dublin has only 19 ambulances to serve a population of 1.3 million, with one firefighter for every 1,300 members of the public compared with one to 800 in cities in Britain.  He said:
“This is not a decision we take lightly and we regret having to do it – we are members of the community like everybody else. We don’t have any choice. The fire service has become a basket case because of cutbacks.
“In addition to the pay cuts, 108 members retired last year, around 30 so far this year, and there have been no new recruits over the last two years. We cannot continue to provide a service like this.”


Supermac’s fast move to lower wages

SUPERMAC’S fast-food bosses got a taste of what’s in store for them when there was a noisy protest by the Restaurant Workers’ Action Group at their outlet in Dublin’s O’Connell Street on Monday against the company’s legal attack on the wages of some of the lowest-paid workers in any industry.
Supermac’s is part of the Quick Service Food Alliance, an industry group mounting a legal challenge to the JLC (Joint Labour Committee) system which sets wages for the restaurant industry.
Although Supermac’s saw its pre-tax profits quadruple last year, it is joining other restaurants in challenging wage protections for its workers. Restaurant owners and industry groups have been calling for the reduction of worker protections, including a €1 per hour cut in the minimum wage; a weakening of the standards laid out in the JLC; and a challenge to the right of the JLC to determine working conditions.
The current wage rate for the sector is less than one euro above the €8.65 minimum wage.

Many restaurant workers have already seen their hours cut and are struggling to survive. Gul Gencoglu, a female restaurant worker in Naas, will face real hardship if Supermac’s and their like win.
“If my wages were cut, I would not be able to pay my rent. I would have no choice but to turn to social welfare for assistance. This is not what I want. I want to work. I want to have decent conditions. I don’t want anything more than that.”
Siobhán O’Donoghue, Director of MRCI, said:
“The restaurant industry is driving an agenda that is bad for low-wage workers and bad for Ireland. This challenge is not about saving jobs. It is about cutting workers’ wages and increasing profits.
“We are calling on the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan TD, to take immediate action to defend the wages of the lowest-paid workers from further attacks and cuts.”


Tyrone Crystal crashes with 31 job cuts

TYRONE CRYSTAL, the Dungannon-based enterprise with a 40-year reputation in producing quality giftware, has closed with the loss of 31 jobs.
The owners have blamed changes in consumer choices and the recession.
There has been dismay amongst all political parties to the news, from Sinn Féin to the DUP and the Ulster Unionist Party.
Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster said the announcement was a dreadful blow for the local economy.
“Tyrone Crystal is not just a manufacturer, it is an iconic brand that has attracted tourism interest.”
Sinn Féin Fermanagh and South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew said she believed the management at the plant had done all in their power to keep the plant open.
Citing Waterford Crystal, she said:
“The writing may have been on the wall for some time at Tyrone.
“It is the end of an era for Tyrone and for Dungannon and probably also for the production of crystal in Ireland as well.”


Green Isle hunger striker gets new work visa

JOHN RECTO, the third Green Isle Foods worker to join the hunger strike over the unfair dismissal of Technical Engineering and Electrical Union members at the plant last July, received a new work visa after he was told when he joined the hunger strike his existing visa would not be renewed and it was taken from him, along with that of his wife Liezel.
John Recto had worked at the Green Isle Foods facility in Naas for eight years and his wife had joined him from the Philippines five years ago, along with their sons, Shaun and Kenan. Last year, the couple had another son, Emmanuel John, who was born in Ireland. They applied for naturalisation in 2008.
The dispute was resolved last Thursday. On the same day Irish Congress of Trade Unions General Secretary David Begg and the General Secretary Designate of the Technical and Engineering Union Eamon Devoy wrote to the Irish Naturalisation and Immigration Service, requesting that the Recto family be allowed to stay. The Migrants Rights Centre and the General President of SIPTU, Jack O’Connor, also made representations on behalf of the family.
Among several public representatives at national and local level who expressed concern at the family’s plight were Sinn Féin TD Martin Ferris, Labour Willie Penrose, and even Fine Gael TD Leo Varadkar.
John Recto thanked all his friends in Naas and the TEEU who had stood by him over the past six months, the public representatives and all those who had signed the TEEU petition or contacted the government on his behalf.



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