Major gaps in professional and technical staffing in the civil service – IMPACT

Judy Price, Stephen Clifford, Ed Connolly and Hilton McWeeney from the Forensic Science branch
Judy Price, Stephen Clifford, Ed Connolly and Hilton McWeeney from the Forensic Science branch

Eamonn Donnelly, IMPACT’s national secretary with the civil service division said the time has come for recruitment in the civil service as gaps emerge in some professional and technical grades.

“The moratorium which was created in 2008 has recently been relaxed, with panels created for the employment of clerical officers and the general service grades. However, when technical and professional grades are required the Department has to make the business case for their employment each time.

“There are now major gaps in the system which were created through retirement and the moratorium, there is a legitimate fear that services such as the archivists and archaeological heritage will become so depleted that they will never be replenished” he said.

Members of the civil service division of IMPACT have gathered in Treacys West County Hotel in Limerick from Wednesday 6th May – Friday 8th May.

Dr Hilton McWeeney of the Forensic Science branch spoke to a motion on the issue. He said “From Forensic Science Ireland’s point of view since the introduction of FEMPI the numbers in staff have fallen by over 12% which has led to unsustainable workloads and overburdened staff.

“The Kopp report 2007 recommended staffing numbers that were never obtained in the laboratory, and with the moratorium the loss of staff has resulted in a stretched service being provided by a highly trained and dedicated skeleton crew.

Dr McWeeney said there is an increasing demand on services “With the impending establishment of the national DNA database system the current staffing levels will struggle to provide the level of service that will be required.

“The Kopp report recommended 41 staff to implement the national database system and 86 staff to meet laboratory needs once established. Current staffing levels do not come close to meeting this demand” he said.

Staff Shortages

IMPACT has commenced a ballot of its Special Education Needs Organiser (SENO) members due to ongoing pressures being placed upon SENOs as a result of the increase in the number of Special Needs Assistants (SNAs). SENOs are responsible for allocating SNA posts each year.

In a letter accompanying the ballot paper, IMPACT national secretary Eamonn Donnelly said the response of the National Council for Special Education (NCSE) to the increased workload had been inhibited by the moratorium on recruitment in the public sector.

“The unbearable pressures brought upon SENOs places members at risk. Naturally, the union understands that recruitment of staff alone, given the continuing recruitment restraints, cannot be viewed as a “one size fits all” solution.  There is a pressing need to combine some recruitment with a look at work pressures, outputs and realistic outcomes as a more holistic way of easing the unsustainable burden. This is an entirely reasonable position, which as yet, has not been met with a favourable response from the NCSE” he said.

Mr Donnelly said that the SENO Branch Executive Committee had therefore decided to ballot for industrial action in an effort to have the issue addressed. “The initial phases of industrial action would be limited by nature (e.g. setting aside some administrative duties as appropriate). The precise nature of initial limited industrial action would be decided by the Branch Executive Committee in consultation with membership of the branch” he said.

The Civil Service division represents professional, technical and service grades. Members in this division work in a variety of careers including forensic scientists, lab analysts, agricultural officers and inspectors, probation officers, legal staff and many more.