Fórsa’s dispute over Tusla’s attempt to outsource services at the Rathmines women’s refuge has been referred to the Labour Court. This follows the union’s earlier success in removing the threat of outsourcing when the parties met at a conciliation conference at the end of January.
The parties met again at the end of February. But Fórsa official Tony Martin said the child and family agency had shown no sign of wanting to make progress on the issue.
“At both conciliation conferences it was patently clear that Tusla were not there to do business. Discussions broke down at the last conciliation conference and Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) reconciliation officer Damian Cannon referred it to the Labour Court,” he said.
Fórsa originally sought the assistance of the WRC because Tusla had breached the current public service agreement by failing to consult staff on its decision to outsource the management of the refuge to a separate agency.
The refuge closed in September 2017 for renovations 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 refuge.
Tony said the union aimed to get the 15 staff back into their posts at the refuge as soon as possible. “These are highly experienced staff who deliver a vital and very sensitive service. usla has offered no explanation as to why it has looked to a separate agency to run the refuge,” he said.
Tony added that Women’s Aid has described the absence of the refuge since September 2017 as a “key gap” in service provision for women experiencing domestic violence.
It was reported last week 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.
The union is awaiting a hearing date from the Labour Court.