1 February 2007 Edition
Nuacht na nOibrithe BY STEPHANIE LORD
Dublin Port Workers to Strike
Dublin Port craft workers began a strike on Tuesday January 30 after Labour Relations talks broke down between the Dublin Port Company and Technical and Engineering Union broke down in acrimony. The TEEU representing the workers at the centre of the dispute claim that workers are being deployed on tugs without adequate training or equipment. Two workers have already been suspended and a further five have been removed from the payroll altogether.
Up to 2003, some craft workers regularly travelled with thus as ‘tug engineers’. A change in practice last year reduced the crewing levels on tugs so that they were no longer required and new tugs were staffed with a seaman with basic engine maintenance skills. However the port company has sometimes had trouble finding enough seamen with training at such short notice. The management now wish to be able to call on craftsmen in the pot to perform on-board engine duties in such scenarios. The TEEU claims that these workers have been asked to go on tugs without any prior agreement and without the necessary training for sea-going work.
Fyffes contractor told to raise employee pay and overtime rates
A major non-union contractor of Fyffes, Swords Packaging has been told by the Labour Court to implement substantial pay increases, plus improved overtime and shift rates for its workers. The company supplies packaging and picking services to Fyffes and has about 150 permanent workers with seasonal workers. Around 90 of these workers are represented by SIPTU. Roskell, a sister company of Swords Packaging had agreed improved terms with SITPU recently. The 30 Roskell employees had been receiving higher basic pay but the deal had improved their sick pay and Sunday premium terms.
The issues referred to the Labour Court were regarding pay, shift premiums and overtime rates. Many of the workers were being paid the national minimum wage of €7.65 per hour. The Labour Court substantially backed many of the union’s claims raising the starting pay rates to €8.85 per hour and also said that there should be a special rate of €10 per hour for those with five years service or more.
Lecturers embark on sixth strike
Lecturers from 16 further education colleges in the North walked out of their classrooms on Monday and took to the streets for the sixth time in eight months in protest over pay levels. Lecturers and college staff took part in a protest march through Belfast city centre and past the Department of Employment and Learning and the strike action is part of the lecturers’ ongoing campaign to gain salary parity with teachers. The University and Colleges Union representing the majority of the staff, claim that college lecturers are being paid £3,421 less than most school teachers who are doing similar work. The union is campaigning for the British government to lift the cap on public sector pay increases to make up the shortfall with teachers’ pay. A spokesperson for the UCU said that Peter Hain needs to take decisive action end the long running dispute, “Lecturers have met with secretary of state Peter Hain in a bid to have the cap lifted. He has said he accepts in principle that lecturers should have pay parity but that would breach the Government’s current pay policy. He offered to work with the unions to progress a case to put to the Government’s Public Sector Pay Committee which would support lecturers but he could give no commitment regarding any outcome.”
Nurses to announce ballot result on Friday
Nurses from the Irish Nurses Organisation and the Psychiatric Nurses Association are due to announce this Friday if they are to strike in protest over pay and working conditions. The two unions are balloting their members on a plan of action in pursuit of a 10% pay rise and reduced working week. The proposed plan of action includes protests, work-to-rule actions and eventual work stoppages if their concerns are not addressed. Last year the Labour Court refused to back the campaign, insisting that they should use the benchmarking process instead.