Fórsa members in Roscommon are to hold a one-day strike on 21st June over management’s refusal to halt its effective ban on flexi-leave in the county council, in defiance of a Labour Court recommendation.
The union has also given notice of continuing one-day strikes each Tuesday and Thursday after 21st June, until the council relents. And it has said the action will be escalated if management moves to victimise or discipline staff for taking part in industrial action.
National secretary Peter Nolan has advised staff to contact the union if they are approached by management and asked if they intend to go on strike.
The union decided to take industrial action in the year-long dispute after management refused to concede any progress in Workplace Relations Commission-brokered talks, which have been going on for weeks.
Last year, the Labour Court issued a recommendation, which confirmed that Roscommon council staff should have the same rights as their colleagues throughout the local government sector.
The recommendation, which is binding on both sides, pointed to the Haddington Road agreement’s provisions on flexi-leave, which says: “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).
Fórsa official Padraig 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.
“Council management’s actions seem designed to deliberately side-step a binding Labour Court recommendation and a protracted Workplace Relations Commission process aimed at resolving the issue.
“What’s more, senior council management are wasting huge amounts of time and public money in a bewildering attack on a system that employers in the public and private sector support because of the flexibility it delivers for organisations and their staff,” he said.
Last month, Fórsa’s Roscommon branch got a sustained standing ovation at the union’s national conference. In a passionate speech, official Padraig Mulligan invited the Roscommon delegation – which included two members at their first ever union conference – to stand up and look at the hall, where 700 delegates took to their feet in a noisy show of solidarity.