31 January 2008 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe

€3,000 fine for company after worker’s death

A COMPANY which had unsafe scaffolding in place that resulted in the death of one of its workers was fined just €3,000 this week.
Padraig Daly, a 52-year-old construction worker from Galway, died in November 2005 after falling 20 feet from the unsafe structure. Dunmore District Court, which handed down the fine, was told that there had been an inspection of the scaffold a week previous to the accident that showed it to be in compliance with building standards and regulations but it had been altered subsequent to the inspection.
Wheelmount Ltd of Oughterard was the main contractor on the site and the case was brought to the district court by the National Authority for Occupational Safety and Health for not adhering to the correct safety standards. A representative of the authority told the court that he had witnessed a number of problems with the scaffolding which ranged from having no loading bay to the handrails and toeboards being missing. As well as this there were not enough ledges on the scaffold itself.
Wheelmount Ltd accepted full responsibility for the design of the scaffolding and pleaded guilty to the charges.

Ambulance drivers vote on strike

TWELVE HUNDRED ambulance personnel will be balloted on 9 February for strike action after the Health Service Executive gave contracts to three private companies to provide ambulance services.
The HSE maintains that the private companies will only be used to transport patients between health facilities and other hospitals and will not be used for emergency services. Ambulance staff unions believe that this is the privatisation of the emergency services. It is understood that SIPTU was to enter into negotiations with the HSE about the provision of private companies but there has been no agreement between the HSE and the union since the awarding of the private contracts.

HSE breaches social partnership agreement

TRADE UNIONS representing 100,000 staff employed by the Heath Service Executive told the Labour Court this week that the HSE breached the national social partnership agreement Towards 2016 when it froze recruitment in September of last year. The HSE has rejected this.
Although the HSE maintains it lifted the ban in December, trade union IMPACT says that management now has stringent new employment control measures and has abolished unfilled posts when the ban originally began and those posts that became vacant during the freeze have also gone.
The union said this policy is hurting patients and service users and is placing intolerable burdens on workers.

Air traffic controllers’ strike suspended

DUBLIN-based air traffic controllers called off their strike action this week after disruption to over 30 flights at the weekend in a dispute over staff and safety levels.
The controllers had put a ban on overtime which was lifted after a meeting with the IMPACT trade union. The workers are concerned that they are short-staffed but the Irish Aviation Authority, which employs them, say that this is not the case. Talks at the Labour Relations Commission are scheduled during the next fortnight.

Government plans may force lone parents into poverty trap

WELFARE REFORM plans to force lone parents into jobs or training when their youngest child reaches the age of 8 will potentially push thousands of lone parents into a poverty trap, according to research funded by the Government’s own advisory body on anti-poverty measures.
Dr Mary Murphy, of Trinity College Dublin’s Policy Institute, says the plan does not deal with childcare costs, transport issues or educational disadvantage and may force lone parents into low-paid, precarious part-time work. Dr Murphy also questioned whether it is fair or consistent to financially support some parents’ choice of caring for their children full-time while compelling single parents dependent on welfare to work part-time.
She recommends that an educational guarantee rather than compulsory work requirement would be more useful as women in part-time employment are among those most at risk of poverty.

An Phoblacht
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