15 June 2006 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe

BY Justin Moran

Nurses rally in huge numbers

At least 1,000 nurses attended a rally in Dublin on Thursday to protest about pay and conditions.

The event, organised by the Irish Nurses Organisation (INO) and the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA), at the Helix centre at Dublin City University was organised ahead of a Labour Court hearing, at which eight claims by nurses are due to be heard. Apart from pay, one of the main issues for nurses is working hours.

"The court will be asked to give effect to the sentiment it expressed in 1980 that nurses should be among the first to benefit from a shorter working week. Twenty-six years on, in spite of the mental and physical nature of the work involved, nurses and midwives remain the only professional, technical or administrative category in the health service required to work 39 hours per week", commented PNA general secretary, Des Kavanagh.

The rally takes place this afternoon, while the Labour Court hearing is set for June 20.

Crowe challenges An Post

Sinn Féin TD Seán Crowe has criticised An Post management and Communications Minister Noel Dempsey for their "arrogant and unaccommodating approach regarding the outstanding pay issue involving rank and file An Post staff."

"Both parties accepted the Labour Court Recommendations issued last November which stated that An Post should deal with the payments when it had found itself returned to a position of reasonable and sustainable profit," he pointed out.

"The fact that the company has somehow found the ability to pay significant bonuses to its senior managers while its loyal staff and pensioners have still not received their outstanding pay, ranging from €1,250 up to over €2,000 per worker raises serious questions about An Post management. Senior management pay themselves vast sums whilst the ordinary workers are still denied what is theirs.

"This situation is unacceptable and I am calling on Minister Dempsey to intervene to ensure that An Post Management satisfactorily resolve this issue. Despite cash reserves of over €180 million ordinary An Post staff are still awaiting moneys due to them since 2004.

"At a recent joint meeting between An Post management and the Union, management suggested that they may not be able to pay the workers what they are entitled to until 2011 at the earliest. This unacceptable response and unashamed reluctance makes a mockery of partnership agreement."

Movement on domestic workers welcomed

Recent reports indicate that domestic workers will have their pay and conditions of employment set out in an employment regulation order as part of the current Partnership negotiations.

During recent months Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Worker's Rights Arthur Morgan TD has been to the fore in highlighting the plight of migrant domestic workers.

Migrant workers in this sector, are particularly vulnerable to exploitation because they work behind closed doors. Evidence of exploitation of workers in this sector has been uncovered over the last 12 months.

Sinn Féin has repeatedly called on Employment Minister Mícheál Martin for to request the Labour Court to carry our investigations into employment conditions in specific sectors.

While welcoming the indications that something is to be done to address the exploitation of domestic workers, Arthur Morgan said: "It is completely unacceptable that the rights of these particularly vulnerable workers, many of whom work in the homes of the state's wealthiest people, would have to be bargained for and that they would have to wait until the conclusion of a social partnership agreements to have their rights protected."

Do as we say, not as we do - Big Business

Senior executives at Eircom received a pay increase of 8.6% last year, bringing their take-home pay to €4.43 million. The increase, due in part to the company becoming a takeover target, is more than twice the rate of inflation.

IBEC and business leaders have been calling incessantly for pay restraint by low paid workers during Partnership negotiations to prevent, so they claim, the economy overheating. Mysteriously, when contacted by An Phoblacht about this double inflation pay increase, an IBEC spokesperson refused to comment.

Improved rates for security workers

Proposals for improvements in the legal minimum standards of pay and conditions for security workers have been announced by the Joint Labour Committee for the Security Industry.

Under the proposals which, if accepted, will become legally enforceable, security operatives with less than one year's service in the industry will see their minimum rate rise from the current level of €8.06 to €10.01 by 1 January, 2009 - while security operatives with three years' service in the industry will see their minimum rate rise from the current €8.51 to €10.75 over the same period.

Under the JLC system, interested parties have 21 days to enter objections to the proposals. If there are none, the Labour Court will issue an Employment Regulation Order confirming the rates as the minimal pay enforceable by law.

An Phoblacht
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