Irish government ‘must prioritise services to children and families’

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A section of the 125,000-strong demonstration in Dublin on February 21st against job losses and wage cuts
A section of the 125,000-strong demonstration in Dublin on February 21st against job losses and wage cuts

IMPACT trade union’s civil service conference has passed an emergency motion on the report of the Commission to Inquire into Child Abuse – the Ryan Commission.

Delegates in Portlaoise last Thursday urged the Irish government to immediately implement the recommendations of the Ryan Commission.

Moving the motion, Tom Ryder, Vice Chair of IMPACT’s Probation and Welfare branch, said: ‘We owe it to the victims, who were the bravest people in this, to ensure that the recommendations are implemented in full.

‘This is a minimum response for those who fought fear and prejudice, and church and state. What occurred was a failure of the system and was an example of absolute power corrupting.’

Kevin Callinan, the head of IMPACT’s Health & Welfare division which represents child care and social care professionals, said there was a need to invest in and prioritise services to children and families.

‘Acknowledging the enormity of what happened is important but it is not enough as long as our government fails to prioritise services to children and families,’ he said.

Callinan highlighted the recent government decision not to invest in out-of-hours social work services, and pointed to the need to train and employ more social workers, social care professionals, psychologists, family therapists, family support workers and other health professionals.

‘The HSE and other government agencies and NGOs must work to a fresh plan that ensures that the rights of the child are paramount and that this country can come to terms with its past by knowing with confidence it has the best services in the world.

‘This means more professionals and the elimination of arrangements where staff are inappropriately qualified.

‘The Health and Social Care Professionals Council must be given the necessary wherewithal so that it can accelerate this aspect of its remit.

‘Residential services in particular must be above reproach and the reports of the Social Service Inspectorate given top priority and acted upon immediately,’ he said.

Callinan praised the work of the staff of the National Counselling Service in helping survivors of abuse deal with their experiences and said that the government should renew its commitment to such services, which would be required for some time to come.

Elsewhere, refuse collections by a private bin company in Munster have resumed after workers on strike at a depot in Carrik-on-Suir agreed to obey the anti- union laws.

Early last Monday Mr Binman lorries were prevented from leaving the depot by up to 50 staff, who are members of the trade union SIPTU.

Bin collections in parts of Waterford, Clonmel and Cashel were affected.

The official strike centres on pay cuts and union recognition.

The family-run company employs 300 people and has its headquarters as well as another depot in Limerick.

It has around 60,000 domestic customers and up to 8,000 commercial customers.

Encouraging scabs, the company said ‘other staff members were willing to work and carry out the bin collections’.

A company spokesperson said the company is to seek a High Court injunction against the union and those picketing.

Later in the afternoon, after the section of the 1990 Industrial Relations act relating to picketing a work premises was read out to strikers, trucks were allowed to start moving out from the depot across the picket line.

However, the strike is continuing, as are the pickets.

SIPTU has also served strike notice on the management of a nursing home in Co Longford in response to cuts in allowances for staff.

The union says new owners who took over Our Lady’s Manor nursing home in Edgeworthstown at the end of February have withdrawn early-morning and night-shift allowances, as well as the workers’ pension scheme and sick pay scheme.

SIPTU has served strike notice on Our Lady’s Manor Nursing Home, Edgeworthstown, Co Longford, to take effect from Thursday May 28th, 2009, over drastic cutbacks in pay rates and working hours.

These will mean massive cuts in weekly earnings for over 50 staff members who work there.

The staff are planning to strike from today, May 28th, in response to the cuts.

‘The dispute is over the unilateral action of the new owners, John Noel McGivney and Sarah Ann McGivney, in breaching agreements on the terms and conditions of employment of our members working in the Manor’, SIPTU Assistant Branch Organiser Niall Phillips said.

‘Since the new owners took over on February 27th, 2009, they have withdrawn, without agreement, our members’:

• Early morning allowance,

• Pension Scheme,

• Sick Pay Scheme,

• Night Shift allowance.

‘The new owners also unilaterally reduced our members’ Sunday premium from double time to time plus a quarter, imposed new rosters, reduced our members annual leave entitlement from 23 to 20 days, introduced two unpaid daily breaks of 15 minutes each, and significantly reduced members’ working hours, all without agreement.

‘This savage attack on our members’ terms and conditions of employment is a blatant and unjust attempt by the new owners to drive down the wages in the Manor in line with the McGivneys’ two other nursing homes in County Westmeath, Newbrook Nursing Home, Ballymahon Road, Mullingar and Portiuncula Nursing Home, Multyfarnham.

‘The McGivneys’ unilateral actions have left our members with no other option but to serve strike notice’ he said.

Meanwhile, SIPTU has expressed grave concern over the ACC Bank’s announcement that it proposes cutting 200 jobs and closing a significant number of offices around the country.

‘Whilst our members fully acknowledge the seriousness of the banking crisis in Ireland, and globally, the intention of cutting around one third of the workforce will have an extremely severe effect on everyone – including the workloads of those remaining as well as those leaving’, SIPTU Branch Organiser Owen Reidy said after meeting with management.

‘We believe it is imperative that the management team works with SIPTU and the staff to ensure that all members’ concerns are addressed fully at this difficult time.

‘We will be meeting with management again in the near future to commence discussions.

‘We will be seeking to minimise the number of redundancies and to ensure that any redundancies that do take place are voluntary.

‘It is essential that the staff members are fully involved in the process as they are central to a successful outcome.

‘Our aim is to preserve as many jobs as possible, as well as ensuring the underlying viability and future of the Bank.’