Unionised workers at NUI Galway are ‘angry and frustrated’ by university management’s refusal to attend the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) to resolve a dispute over an equality taskforce.
SIPTU and IFUT, who represent up to 1,000 academic and non-academic staff at NUIG, have called on Minister for Education, Jan O’Sullivan to intervene in the dispute by urging management to attend the LRC.
The two unions have insisted the equality taskforce established by the university to tackle endemic gender discrimination within NUIG is not independent. The unions this week reiterated their members have “no confidence” in that taskforce and have urged management to attend the LRC to discuss the issues.
NUIG president, Jim Browne, called a meeting with union representatives recently where he updated them on the progress being made by the equality taskforce that was appointed in February.
The taskforce, which issued an interim report in June, was criticised by unions from the beginning for not being independent. They also argued it would not be effective.
At the recent meeting, Mr Browne stood by the taskforce and told unions management would not be attending LRC.
In a statement, issued by SIPTU and on behalf of IFUT, the unions said they were “astonished” that NUIG, a publicly funded organisation, would “completely disregard the State’s industrial relations machinery”.
SIPTU organiser, Noel Maguire, told the Galway City Tribune that NUIG workers had no confidence in management to resolve this dispute internally.
“We heard nothing new at this meeting. Management presented a version of events that denies current and historical reality. Oblivious to the extent of the problem, Jim Browne, sought to lecture staff representatives on management’s ‘bravery’ and ‘achievements’ on equality.
“We believe that the meeting was not held in good faith. It is our view that the management strategy was more about simulating engagement, while in reality trying to frustrate any input from worker representatives. Our members have no confidence in NUIG management to resolve this problem internally.
“For a proper investigation of these matters the intervention of an independent third party is required. The refusal by management to accept this is a further demonstration of its abject fear of independent scrutiny on this subject.”
Mr Maguire said both unions were ready to discuss the issues at LRC. He added: “If the President is serious about ending discrimination and is genuine about co-operating with unions, then agreeing to attend the LRC would restore some semblance of confidence.
“Our members are frustrated at the toxic environment they face every day; they are losing patience with management’s arrogant and obstructive attitude and are demanding action.”
Salthill’s ‘Heart of Hope’ a beacon of light for frontline workers
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A giant illuminated heart has been erected on the Big Wheel at Curry’s Funpark in Leisureland as a poignant symbol of hope and expression of gratitude for the country’s healthcare workers.
Last month, preparations got underway to set up the fun fair, but it became yet another casualty of Covid-19. Owner Owen Curry got to work on constructing a blue ‘Heart of Hope, An Croí Gorm’ with LED lights to attach to the 120-foot wheel overlooking the Prom.
Together with his crew, and respecting the rules of social distancing, he had the heart in place on the axle of the Big Wheel within a day.
“I wanted to do something, to say to the doctors, nurses, first responders, lab technicians and everybody working in the health service how grateful we are for their incredible dedication and courage in the current crisis.
“When the other lights on the Big Wheel are switched off, the heart emits a glow and appears to float in mid air over the Prom,” he said.
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ICU consultant reveals intensive planning ahead of peak Covid demand
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A consultant in critical care at Galway’s biggest hospital has assured the public that there is still significant capacity for very ill patients fighting Covid-19.
But to help University Hospital Galway best cope with the expected surge in numbers within the next two weeks, Consultant Intensivist John Bates has pleaded with the public to follow the strict public health guidelines about staying at home.
“There’s been a lot going on – a lot of retraining, a lot of redeployment, a lot of up-equipping. We normally have twelve ventilator beds and we’re up to 24 at this stage and have significant capacity. We’re working to get beyond that but we certainly have capacity at the moment,” he told the Galway City Tribune.
Asked if the hospital would be able to cope with the peak of the pandemic – tipped to hit in the next fortnight – he said there were no guarantees.
“It depends on the size of the surge. We can’t say for sure how big the surge will be. It’s a new disease and models of how it will go are different – in some we will be okay and others we will struggle,” Dr Bates said.
“The curve appears to be flattening. Dublin is starting to come under pressure accessing critical care beds. It’s likely we will at some stage here too. But we have good capacity at this stage.”
The number of healthcare workers who will likely be affected by the pandemic has been factored into the hospital’s readiness plans. In China, ten per cent of critical care staff were out of action while in Italy it has reached 20 per cent.
Despite the high risks facing hospital staff, Dr Bates believes morale at UHG is good.
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Galway CIty Council takes ‘wait and see’ approach to emergency cuts
From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A revised, emergency budget with swingeing cuts to non-essential services may have to be introduced by Galway City Council if the Covid-19 crisis is prolonged and income from commercial rates, parking and rents from social housing dries up.
However, the local authority for now is taking a ‘wait and see’ approach, and has no immediate plans to introduce a ‘slash and burn’ budget.
Some 38% of the Council’s income of €100 million comes from commercial rates paid by businesses, which in 2020 equates to €38 million.
About 60% of all the rates collected – roughly €22.5 million – comes from the hospitality and general retail sector, which has been most badly hit by mandatory and voluntary closures to stem the spread of coronavirus.
Government has confirmed that businesses have a three-month ‘holiday’ on paying commercial rates, although pressure is mounting from business groups for rates bills relating to the period of Covid-19 closures to be written off.
Regardless of the outcome of that lobbying, Chief Executive Brendan McGrath said the City Council concedes that some city businesses simply will not survive this turbulent time – and that will have a knock-on effect on the local authority’s income.
This is a preview only. To read the rest of this article and extensive coverage of the coronavirus impact on Galway, buy a digital edition of this week’s Galway City Tribune for €1.95 HERE. Remember, without advertising revenue and people buying our papers, this website would not be here. Thank you for your support.