A work-to-rule by IMPACT members in Roscommon County Council is set to start next Tuesday (14th November) over council management’s decision to continue to block staff access to its flexi-time scheme, in defiance of a Labour Court recommendation. The union says management’s intransigence, which is unprecedented in Irish local government and across the public service, is an attack on working parents, particularly working mums.
The industrial action will leave phones and emails unanswered, and counters unstaffed, as well as halting staff cooperation with additional duties or work outside normal hours. IMPACT has warned that strike action is on the cards if management continues to deny access to flexi-time, as it has since June 2017.
Earlier this year a binding Labour Court recommendation said there should be no change in the current facility for staff to take up to 13 days flexi-leave a year, once they had worked up the time. Management initially wanted to reduce this to just two days. Now, in an attempt to side-step the Labour Court recommendation, the management team has said there can never be a business case to support staff access to the scheme.
IMPACT official Padraig Mulligan said: “No other local authority in Ireland has attacked working parents – and particularly working mothers – in this 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 breaches the newly-signed Public Service Stability Agreement in an attempt to prevent access to flexi-time. What’s more, senior council management are wasting huge amounts of time and public money in its bewildering attack on flexi-time – a system that employers in the public and private sector support because of the flexibility it delivers for organisations and their staff.”
Earlier this year, IMPACT welcomed the Labour Court’s 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-time, which say: “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).