The Labour Court has strongly criticised Tusla in a recommendation on a dispute over the child and family protection agency’s attempt to outsource services at the Rathmines women’s refuge. The Court also said Tusla was in breach of Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA) consultation requirements regarding outsourcing proposls.
The refuge closed for renovations in September 2017 and its 15 staff members were temporarily redeployed to other employments. But when the work was completed last September, Tusla failed to inform the staff of its plans to re-open the facility.
In its recommendation, the Labour Court said it was inexplicable that the employer waited until the refuge was almost ready to re-open before unveiling its intentions. It said it was apparent that these intentions would inevitably lead to serious concerns on the part of affected staff.
The matter was referred to the Labour Court following the union’s earlier success in removing the threat of outsourcing when the parties met at a conciliation conference at the end of January.
Fórsa originally sought the assistance of the WRC because Tusla had breached the PSSA by failing to consult staff on its decision to outsource the management of the refuge to a separate agency.
The Court has advised the WRC on the terms of the recommendation and said, in view of the urgency, that the parties engage in an “intense and meaningful” engagement with a view to concluding agreement within four weeks of the recommendation, which was issued last Friday (10th May).
Fórsa official Tony Martin said the union’s objective was to get the 15 staff back into their posts as soon as possible. “These are highly experienced staff who deliver a vital and very sensitive service. We are very pleased that the Court has made the recommendation and highlighted the unnecessary delay in re-opening the service,” he said.
It was reported in March that Ireland has less than a third of the required refuge spaces. A 2017 report states Ireland had 21 women’s shelters, with 141 beds, but needed 472 under European guidelines, which suggests a shortfall of 331 beds.