Sunday 22 April 2018

Staff at Oberstown detention centre serve strike notice amid dispute over safety concerns

Oberstown detention centre
Oberstown detention centre
Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

Staff at the Oberstown detention centre have served notice of industrial action in a dispute over the safety of clients and employees.

Residential care workers and night supervising staff plan a series of four hour stoppages next Tuesday, May 31.

A further four strikes have been planned for every Tuesday morning throughout the month of June (June 7th, 14th, 21st and 28th).

The strikes are scheduled to take place from 8am until 12 noon on each Tuesday indicated. 

Earlier this month workers at the centre backed an industrial action ballot by a margin of 95pc in a dispute over the safety of clients and staff.

Unions for the employees, IMPACT and SIPTU, say centre is understaffed and that staff are exposed to daily risk of violent assault.

The Oberstown campus currently caters for 48 under-18s, including a mix of vulnerable young offenders and violent criminals with multiple convictions for serious offences.

IMPACT official Tom Hoare said the union will not hold industrial action at times and dates that would interfere with State examinations being held on campus.

“Emergency cover will be provided across the campus, which means that 16 frontline staff will remain on duty during the stoppages. These will all be union members," he said.

"Non-union or agency staff will be required to make their way to the picket line during the stoppage period. Any off-campus trips, such as court dates or routine hospital visits, will not be staffed by union members, except in an emergency situation."

SIPTU Organiser, Ray Stanley, said: “Our members, along with their colleagues in IMPACT, have on numerous occasions over the last 15 months raised concerns regarding health and safety issues for staff and the young people that they care for. These include the fact that our members are at a daily risk of serious injury and assault.

“Due to management intransigence, the workers have been left with no option but to take industrial action in an attempt to have their concerns adequately addressed. Management must immediately engage with staff and their representatives with the aim of agreeing changes at the facility that will ensure that a safe environment is created for staff and the young residents.”

Campus manager for the centre told that negotiations have gone to the WRC and that IMPACT have been invited to discussions next Tuesday.

"We are currently waiting on a response," he said.

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