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Connacht Tribune

GMIT hit by industrial action

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Around 70 technical staff at GMIT began industrial action this week in a row over pay with the Department of Education.

The action will continue to escalate over the next fortnight and will effectively see the workers refuse to use any technology or procedures which have been introduced at the college since 2009 – including phones, emails and swipe cards.

As of Tuesday, workers in the college’s Technical Section who are members of SIPTU, are no longer sending, receiving or acting on emails, and are not answering or making any calls.

They have also withdrawn cooperation with software and any new processes (or working practices) introduced since 2009.

Workers were balloted in July and voted in favour of taking both industrial action and strike action, because of the failure to implement a Labour Court (and previously a Workplace Relations Commission) ruling in relation to the failure to implement final 2.5% payment from the Towards 2016 national partnership agreement.

It’s understood the annual 2.5% of salary is owed back to 2008, but cannot be paid by GMIT because the new salary rates were never sanctioned by the Department of Education.

A spokesperson for GMIT did not respond to a request for comment.

Yesterday (Friday) will see members fully withdraw from Agresso, an internal financial software system.

There will be no cooperation with video conferencing, audio visual requirements, Open Day events and they will withdraw from using electronic swipe cards, timetable and module manager, withdraw from support of CAO student transfer, and printing services, and there will be no further cooperation with the Moodle learning platform or processing IT accounts.

There will be non-cooperation with technology introduced since 2009 that is to be used with autumn exams, and non-cooperation with the development of the new €20m STEM  building on the Dublin Road campus.

Next Tuesday, the workers will withdraw support for post graduate degrees, international students and lifelong learning students, and for all new courses introduced this year.

From September 4, there will be protests at the entrance to GMIT and workers will not cooperate with technology introduced since 2009 for the student registration process, or HR management software.

All students return on September 11, and coinciding with this, laboaratories will be closed for preparation for half-an-hour each morning, afternoon and evening, and labs will only be open and closed by technical staff and only operate when either a technician or a lecturer is in attendance.

There will be no support for labs from 1pm to 2pm, and there will be a withdrawal of support for any related technology introduced since 2009.

Last year, industrial action of an almost identical nature was called off after a week when the Dept of Education conceded at the LRC. But the Department reneged on the agreement, and a further Labour Court ruling last February found the workers were entitled to the 2.5%.

Connacht Tribune

Community fights back on hospital ‘downgrade by stealth’

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Raw emotion, sadness and some anger filled the air at Clifden Town Hall on Sky Road last Sunday afternoon as a shaken community gave honest, personal accounts of the impact the closure by stealth of Clifden District Hospital would have on the people of North Connemara.

The public meeting was hastily organised after fears emerged on Friday that the HSE may transfer respite services from Clifden to Merlin Park Hospital, 50-plus miles away in Galway City.

Families were told their loved ones in Clifden Hospital may have to move home, or go to Merlin Park the following Monday, due to ‘issues with staffing’.

An axe has hung over Clifden Hospital for some years, but this latest move stirred the community to fight back to retain services locally.

Galway County Councillor Eileen Mannion (FG), who organised the public meeting with Senator Sean Kyne, said 625 people signed the attendance sheets and an estimated 650 people attended.

“The community effort spreading the word was unbelievable; the turnout was unbelievable,” she said.

“It wasn’t just anger; it was raw emotion in the room. Sadness. Family members spoke about the calls they got on Friday. The feeling that their elderly person was being rejected; that they weren’t being respected.

“One man stood up, three years waiting for respite care for a family member, and then to be told after a few days in there that she’d have to be taken home or to Merlin Park.

“We’re 50 miles from Galway. If there’s no traffic you might get to the outskirts in an hour but with the traffic in Galway, you could be another hour to get to Merlin Park. Not everyone has transport either and they’ve to rely on buses.

“A young woman stood up at the meeting and said her dad was dying in Galway. And she had to go to Saint Vincent de Paul to get money to pay for a B&B so that the family would be close to him when the end came. People gave their personal stories, and it was just heart-breaking.”

(Photo by Carmel Lyden: Teresa Conneely from Roundstone addresses people at the public meeting in Clifden Town Hall).

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read extensive coverage of the Clifden Hospital story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Pilgrim took to his feet to realise dream!

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Clifden man Breandan O Scanaill, who is on a pilgrimage from his home town of Clifden to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, received a Mayoral welcome and a memorial crest when he arrived at the Asturian town of Navia last week.

Breandan, whose walk from his home outside Clifden to the reputed burial place of St James in Santiago, began in April, was walking through Navia in Spain when a local man came over to chat to him.

“He asked me about my journey and was interested in the fact that an Irish man had turned up in the town,” says Breandan, who had been admiring the Chapel of San Roque at the time.

The local man outlined the history of the building and the town to Breandan and they began chatting more generally about history and architecture – topics dear to the pilgrim’s heart.

Breandán’s new friend introduced himself as the Mayor of Navia, lgnacio Garcia Palacios, who invited the visitor from Clifden to visit the Town Hall.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of this story, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Connacht Tribune

Local Property Tax rate to stay unchanged despite Council chief’s plea

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Councillors have agreed to keep the Local Property Tax (LPT) rate unchanged – despite pleas from management that Galway County Council is predicted to spend at least €22 million more than it brings in for the next two years.

County Chief Executive Jim Cullen had recommended an increase of 15% on the LPT rate for 2023 and 2024 – amounting to €2.1m extra in the coffers annually – which would bolster its case when it came to pleading for a greater share of funding from central government.

In an estimation of income and expenditure for the Council, taking into account “unavoidable” expenditure and income changes set to hit, the Council would run a deficit of €9.04m in 2023 and 13.2m in 2024 – well over €22m unless there was a change in finances.

“I am hopeful of an uplift in baseline [funding] levels . . . we cannot continue to ignore the fact that other councils have raised LPT and their citizens enjoy a better standard of services that in Galway,” he stressed.

He told a meeting this week that €9m would be needed to maintain services next year at the same level as 2022. This was due to significant cost increases given that inflation is reaching 9.6% currently. Pensions, gratuities and payroll increases from the national pay agreement, increments and additional staff were all adding to bigger outgoings.

Without that extra funding, it will be necessary to reduce spending by that amount with a negative impact on service and staffing levels, he said.

This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the story, including the councillors’ discussions, see this week’s Connacht Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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