The Labour Court has said a dispute over Wexford County Council’s decision to bar experienced library staff from interviews for full-time posts should be resolved through local negotiations. IMPACT, the union that represents the workers, welcomed the Court’s intervention and called on management to immediately enter talks to resolve the row.
IMPACT’s Wexford official Shay Clinton said the four part-time workers involved had been seeking full-time posts for some time, and had worked extra hours to help retain branch library services during the crisis-era ban on local authority recruitment.
“These women put their shoulder to the wheel to keep libraries open during the recession. Instead of showing its appreciation, the Council is now barring them from competing for full time library assistant posts. Now that we finally have the scope for some recruitment in local authorities, it’s shameful that these staff were not allowed to interview for full-time posts,” he said.
Mr Clinton was speaking after the IMPACT Local Government conference in Donegal, where delegates from the union’s Wexford branch supported motions opposing staffless libraries on the grounds they would undermine child protection protocols and put young people at risk.
The conference heard that the Local Government Management Association (LGMA), which represents local authority management, had concealed six incidents of children being left unsupervised in staffless libraries during a pilot carried out in Offaly. The incidents were later reported under Freedom of Information legislation. The LGMA plans to roll out staffless libraries in Gorey and 22 other locations across the country.
“The lurch to staffless libraries is cuts-driven, overlooks the many risks involved, and undermines our commitments and responsibilities under child protection legislation. If a child or young person enters a library during a staffless opening period, there is an automatic, immediate and unacceptable level of risk,” said Mr Clinton.