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Minister urged to intervene in NUIG row

Dara Bradley



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.”


Voice of ‘Big O’ reflects on four decades

Denise McNamara



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – The daytime voice of Big O Taxis is celebrating four decades in the role – and she has no plans to hang up her headset any time soon.

Roisin Freeney decided to seek a job after staying at home to mind her three children for over a decade. It was 1981 when she saw an advert in the Connacht Sentinel for a dispatch operator.

The native of Derry recalls that the queue for the job wound its way past Monroe’s Tavern from the taxi office on Dominick Street.

“There was a great shortage of work back then. I nearly had a heart attack when I saw the line of people. My then husband who was giving me a lift in never thought I’d get the job, he was driving on past and I said, let me off.

“I got it because I worked as a telephonist in the telephone exchange in Derry. But I was terrified starting off because I hadn’t been in the work system for so long.”

Back then Big O Taxis had only 25 drivers and just a single line for the public to book a cab.

“We had an old two-way radio, you had to speak to the driver and everybody could listen in. It was easy to leave the button pressed when it shouldn’t be pressed. People heard things they shouldn’t have – that’s for sure,” laughs Roisin.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of Róisín’s story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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Baby boom puts strain on Galway City secondary schools

Stephen Corrigan



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A baby boom in the late 2000s has left parents of sixth class pupils in Galway City scrambling to find a secondary school place for their children next September – with over 100 children currently facing the prospect of rejection from city schools.

The Department of Education is now rushing to address the issue and confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it was fully aware of increasing pressure and demand on city schools

Local councillor Martina O’Connor said there were 100 more children more than there were secondary school places for next year, and warned that this would put severe pressure on schools to increase their intake numbers.

“This will put a lot of pressure on schools because they will have been working out the number of teachers and what resources they would need in October or November last year and they could be facing a situation where they will be asked to take an additional eight or 10 students.

“There would normally be a small excess – maybe two or three – but this year, it’s over 100. There is a bigger number of children in sixth class this year and there will be the same issue for the next few years,” said the Green Party councillor.

A Department spokesperson said while there were capacity issues, factors other than numbers could be at play, adding that there were approximately 1,245 children in the city due to move onto secondary school in September.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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GMIT warns partying students they are delaying return to campus

Enda Cunningham



From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Partying students have been told their actions have impacted GMIT’s plans to re-start practical classes on campus – and Gardaí are monitoring the city’s bus and train stations to catch those breaking the 5km travel restriction by returning home for the weekend.

College authorities said the current “extremely serious outbreak” of Covid-19 among students in Galway City was caused by a small minority who are “moving and mixing between different households”.

Following a meeting with Gardaí last week, GMIT contacted all students to clarify that because there are no ‘onsite’ classes, there should be no need to travel for educational purposes.

“The Gardaí have notified us that there will be checks at the bus and train stations to implement the 5km travel rule, as well as checkpoints on the roads, and that fines will be given for any non-compliance with this rule,” students were told.

In a separate communication issued this week, the college’s Covid Officer appealed to students to abide by the rules.

“This outbreak has had an impact on our plans with regard to return to onsite practical work, with consequences for all students.

“We are appealing to all students to comply with all Covid restrictions and in doing so, to help ensure that those students who have to return to onsite practical work can do so,” the email read.

Many students from outside the city have opted to stay in their accommodation for access to better broadband.
This is a shortened preview version of this article. To read the rest of the story and more coverage of Covid figures and vaccinations, see this week’s Galway City Tribune. You can buy a digital edition HERE.

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