Wednesday 28 June 2017

Sparks fly in hospital fire alarms row

Grainne Cunningham

TALKS to resolve a dispute over who resets fire alarms -- which has caused two work stoppages at a busy hospital -- are due to get under way at the Labour Relations Commission today.

The Technical Engineering and Electrical Union (TEEU) held a second four-hour stoppage at St James's Hospital, Dublin, yesterday in protest at management moves to outsource their work.

During the stoppage, other craft workers at the hospital, including members of Unite and UCATT, refused to pass the pickets, leading to the effective closure of the technical services department.

However emergency cover was provided at all times.

The union and hospital management have agreed to attend the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) at 2pm today to begin talks on trying to resolve the dispute, which centres on the resetting of fire alarms.

This work was carried out by electricians until recently but the hospital wants to use security staff instead.

The TEEU claims the outside contractors were brought in without prior agreement and that members are concerned about health and safety and whether the new workers are adequately trained.

A spokesman for the union said it remained committed to escalating the action to a day- long stoppage next Monday if there is no progress at the LRC.

Escalation

TEEU regional secretary Ian McDonnell said a meeting to consider a further escalation of the dispute after Monday may take place later this week if there is no progress in the talks.

A spokesman for St James's Hospital said there was no disruption to hospital services arising from the industrial action.

Commenting on the cause of the dispute, the spokesman said: "Whilst traditionally St James's Hospital has utilised electricians to reset fire alarms, it is not the case that only electricians can do this work. In other hospitals, it is carried out by a range of staff including security staff.

"In St James's Hospital, security personnel have traditionally been part of the fire team and are now engaged in the re-setting of fire alarms for which they have been trained."

Irish Independent

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