Union branches to rally in Roscommon in flexi-leave row

Fórsa branches from across the country will rally in support of Roscommon council workers in a protest in Roscommon town on Saturday 23rd June. Council management’s refusal – unique in Ireland – to implement a flexi-leave scheme in the local authority has also provoked a series of one-day strikes in the council, which will commence on Thursday 21st June.

The union intends to stage one-day strikes every Tuesday and Thursday following 21st June. These will impact on all council services.

Council management has refused to halt its effective ban on flexi-leave in defiance of two binding Labour Court recommendations, two Labour Court clarifications of its position, and one Labour Court clarification of its clarifications.

The union decided to take industrial action after management refused to concede any progress in Workplace Relations Commission-brokered talks, which have been going on for weeks.

Fórsa Roscommon Branch Chair Florie Hickey said local workers had received massive solidarity from Fórsa members in other parts of the country. “We were buoyed by the outstanding support the branch received at last month’s Fórsa conference in Killarney, and now we’re expecting many council and other workers to rally in Roscommon on Saturday 23rd June,” she said.

All members of Fórsa’s National Executive Committee (NEC) will attend the rally.

Fórsa official Padraig Mulligan said management had not budged an inch in seven Workplace Relations Commission hearings on the matter. “We really have explored every avenue to avoid industrial action. Now we need the support of Fórsa branches as we embark on a campaign of one-day strikes,” he said.

We really have explored every avenue to avoid industrial action. Now we need the support of Fórsa branches as we embark on a campaign of one-day strikes.

The Labour Court last year confirmed that Roscommon council staff should have the same rights as their colleagues throughout the local government sector. Its recommendation, which was binding on both sides, pointed to the Haddington Road agreement’s provisions on flexi-leave, which say: “no change is proposed to the existing terms with regard to the amount or the use of hours to be carried over.” That protection carried into the current Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA).

Mr Mulligan said management’s intransigence, which is unprecedented in Irish local government and across the public service, was an attack on working parents, particularly working mums. “No other local authority in Ireland has attacked working parents – and particularly working mothers – in this way. It is unprecedented within the public service, and it hits lower-paid women hardest as many of them depend on the flexi scheme to balance work and caring responsibilities,” he said.

Details of the rally on Facebook.

News, Wednesday 20th June: Fórsa official Padraig Mulligan spoke to Shannonside FM yesterday about the dispute in Roscommon, you can listen back HERE. Shannonside reports that Fórsa denies that staff dictate to their managers in relation to availing of flexi-leave arrangements, and that industrial action at Roscommon County Council is due to proceed tomorrow.