Monday 20 May 2019

SIPTU refer FAI pay dispute to the Labour Court

FAI chief John Delaney
FAI chief John Delaney

John Fallon

SIPTU will consider balloting their FAI staff for industrial action should the association refuse to engage in its request to deal with a pay restoration claim at the Labour Court.

Denis Hynes, Sector Organiser of the biggest union in the country, said yesterday his membership had grown "frustrated" by the FAI’s failure to move beyond the meagre three per cent recovered from the historical pay-cuts which date back to 2012.

According to SIPTU, the employees – mostly development officers – saw their pay packets slashed by between 10-30 per cent during a period the FAI’s debts reached €64m amid their financial commitments to the redeveloped Lansdowne Road.

John Delaney, the association’s chief executive, had predicted their grandiose premium tickets scheme for the swanky Dublin 4 venue to generate enough revenue to not alone meet the costs but create a neat surplus to invest back into the game.

Instead, seven years after the stadium reopening, the FAI still owes €40m and all elements of football, including League of Ireland prize-money and staff salaries, were pruned.

The €11m accrued through UEFA from reaching the knockout stage of last summer’s Euros, nor a sell-out crowd for next month’s World Cup qualifier against Wales, have yet trickled down to staff.  This is a failing SIPTU want eradicated to avoid the dispute deteriorating. 

“We’re looking for restoration of the pay levels prior to the cuts of August 2012, which were to be in place for a period of 18 months only,” explained Mr Hynes yesterday (Monday).

“Receiving a paltry three per cent last June was simply not enough. We asked the FAI to engage with us in the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to find a resolution to this dispute but they declined to do so.

“Our members are feeling completely frustrated at the lack of progress in this dispute.

“It left us with no option but to submit an application for a full hearing at the Labour Court, which we have now done. The case will be heard inside three months.”

It is understood around a third of the FAI’s 167 employees are members of SIPTU, the vast majority of those part of their technical department.

Some of these tracksuited personnel, regularly praised by the hierarchy for fostering the game nationwide, have been forced to take on second jobs in an attempt to replenish their loss of income over the past five years.

Should the FAI refuse to engage in the Labour Court hearing, or fail to implement a determination from the state machinery, SIPTU have the right to ballot workers for industrial action, up to including all-out strike.

In trying to understand the FAI’s reluctance to share their gains of recent years with staff, SIPTU have called for a third-party analysis of their accounts.

This is a similar request made by disgruntled League of Ireland clubs, leading them to nominate senior counsel Michael Cush as their honest broker in ascertaining what proportion of the FAI’s income and expenditure is linked to a domestic product starved of investment in infrastructure and marketing.

“As part of the (Labour Court) process, we will be looking for an independent assessment of the FAI accounts,” said Mr Hynes.

“In disputes where employers say they can’t afford to pay their employees, unions are entitled to ask the employer to prove that is the case, which is where the independent assessors come in.”

The FAI failed to reply for requests to comment on the matter last night.

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