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Saturday 24 February 2018

Oberstown workers back January strike in row over safety clothes

Assist General Secreatry of IMPACT, Tom Hoare. Photo: David Walsh
Assist General Secreatry of IMPACT, Tom Hoare. Photo: David Walsh

Anne-Marie Walsh

Staff at Oberstown Children Detention Campus are set to go on strike in the new year over fears for their safety in the wake of a series of violent attacks.

The residential care workers, night supervising officers, and middle management staff voted by almost 94pc in favour of a strike from January 3.

Impact said management's refusal to make protective clothing available in dangerous situations sparked the decision to ballot on a work stoppage.

It said members had claimed that violence and the threat of violence was a daily occurrence, and following a meeting of Impact's health and welfare executive next Wednesday, notice would be served on their employer Oberstown Youth Detention Management.

Impact said it had decided to give a longer period of notice to the employer so it could make security and alternative care arrangements.

However, it would not provide emergency cover during the strike as staff sustained injuries during an eight-hour stoppage last August.

Read more: '65 staff were the victim of assaults last year - over 3,000 sick days taken because of injury and stress' - striking staff

Assistant general secretary Tom Hoare claimed management was failing to meet its health and safety obligations, despite the fact violent assaults were a regular hazard on the campus, which is overseen by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs.

"Oberstown management is in denial about the level of risk to its staff," he said.

Seeking protective clothing would be uncontroversial in any other working environment, let alone one with a long history of violent incidents, he said.

Impact said official figures showed there were more than 100 violent incidents at Oberstown last year, almost half of which were "critical". A spokesperson for Oberstown was not available to comment.

Irish Independent

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