10 April 2008 Edition

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Nuacht na nOibrithe

HSE to discuss health cuts with unions

THE Health Service Executive is due to discuss cutbacks in the health sector of up to €300 million over the coming year with trade unions in the next week.
While various departments within the HSE are said to be considering plans to make cuts, including €95 million saving in the Primary, Community and Continuing Care section, HSE Chief Executive Brendan Drumm has warned the union that if savings could not be made across the HSE he would examine the option of closing A&E units in smaller hospitals, closing hospital wards at weekends and during the summer months.
The IMPACT trade union is currently balloting its members for industrial action in response to the HSE recruitment freeze. IMPACT’s Kevin Callinan said that any cutbacks would strengthen the resolve of the 28,000 union members. The ballot results are due on 28 April.
Health trade unions are urging the HSE to implement outstanding agreements after the Labour Court ruled earlier this year that management had introduced cutbacks that breached the social partnership agreement.

35,000 protest at EU Finance Ministers meeting

THE European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) confirmed this week that 35,000 trade unionists from across Europe took part in a demonstration in Ljubljana, Slovenia, on Saturday, 5 April, to demand higher wages, equal pay for men and women, stronger collective bargaining powers to end ‘social dumping’, and wider opportunities for life-long learning.
The demonstration took place as EU Finance Ministers and bankers were meeting in nearby Brdo. Fifty trade union organisations took place in the ‘Euro-demonstration’ organised by ETUC, of which the Irish Congress of Trade Unions is a member.
“This is a campaign launched in some anger and with real commitment,” according to ETUC General Secretary John Monks. “Getting a fairer deal for workers across Europe is a top ETUC priority.”
Since 1995, while wages have fallen as a share of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) across the EU, profits have risen. Top managers earn up to 300 times more than their workers, leaving more than 30 million people on poverty wages, while an average 15 per cent wage gap separates men and women. Evidence shows that wage moderation does not create more jobs, as some claim, but leads instead to stagnating domestic demand and weakened employment rates.”


Aer Lingus pilots reach deal

PILOTS at Aer Lingus voted on Tuesday by a majority of 85 per cent to accept a management deal that gives them €14,000 each in return for changes in work practices and giving up some benefits.
Changes include the 500 pilots having to work an extra 50 hours annually to receive overtime and reductions in compensation to pilots working outside their agreed contract. Telephone allowances will also be eliminated.
A further pilots’ pay review will take place in three years under the new deal.
Aer Lingus cabin crew have already accepted a deal on changing work practices. Ground staff represented by SIPTU rejected a deal in February.


FBD staff fight for maternity pay continues

THE predominantly female workforce at FBD insurance suspended a series of half-day work stoppages in a row over maternity pay when the company agreed to return to the Labour Relations Commission this week for talks with the trade union UNITE.
FBD employs around 800 staff across Ireland.
In October 2007, the Labour Court ruled that FBD should implement improved maternity benefits, including recommending that the company agrees to pay 100 per cent of an employee’s wages minus statutory maternity pay and welfare entitlements for a period of 26 weeks.
UNITE Regional Officer Brian Gallagher said he was hopeful that a resolution to the dispute could be reached even though a union statement said the company had “totally failed” to engage in talks at the LRC to implement the ruling.

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