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Social care workers owed €7.5m by HSE

Dara Bradley

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Around 400 social care workers in Galway and Roscommon are owed €7.5 million from the Health Service Executive (HSE) for unpaid wages stretching back over a decade.

The HSE has acknowledged that it owes the money to workers, and has been directed by Labour Court to pay its debts. But it is refusing to make the payments and clear its debts, claiming an inability to pay.

Trade unions IMPACT and SIPTU are demanding that the HSE honour its commitment to the social care workers who look after people with disabilities in the communities.

The social care workers and leaders have been working with Brothers of Charity Services and Ability West. They used to be known as ‘Old House Parents’.

At a Labour Court hearing last week, the HSE accepted that about 400 workers in Galway and Roscommon are entitled to what’s known as Twilight Premium Time payments, which is time and one sixth extra for working between 8pm and midnight.

The outstanding bill is about €7.5 million.

The HSE has previously said it would honour the debt but at the Labour Court hearing it said it would pay the monies going forward but it equivocated over its ability to pay the historic arrears.

The HSE said it could not sustain the costs, and if they paid it, the organisation faces “greater financial difficulties”.

The HSE has paid in full other categories including managers, nurses and care assistants; they withheld the Twilight Payments from social care workers however.

Recently, the HSE in Dublin reimbursed social care workers in three organisations, Home Again Traveller, Families Care and Cottage Home for Little Children.

IMPACT in Galway says it is completely unacceptable that the HSE continues to withhold monies from social care workers in Galway and Roscommon.

“Only a heartless organisation without a soul would continue to treat social care workers in such a heartless and completely unacceptable manner,” said Padraig Mulligan, assistant general secretary of IMPACT.

He added: “The HSE have told us that they do not have the monies to pay these arrears and that paying Twilight Premium Time going forward is the best they can do. This is not an acceptable position as far as we are concerned particularly in light of the fact that last week they just paid all back monies to agencies in Dublin.”

IMPACT and SIPTU is hosting two meetings for workers who are affected by the HSE’s decision to withhold the monies. One meeting will take place in Clayton Hotel, Galway, on Thursday, March 26 at 12 noon to 3pm; and there will be a meeting in the Abbey Hotel, Roscommon, on Wednesday, April 1, from 12 noon to 3pm.

CITY TRIBUNE

Residents call in the clampers to sort problem parking

Dara Bradley

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – Residents in a Salthill estate have become tired of illegal parking outside their homes – and hired private clampers as a deterrent.

People living in Seamount off Threadneedle Road near Blackrock said they have been plagued by extra traffic and vehicles parking outside their homes, blocking access, during the latest Covid lockdown.

They said that since Galway City Council closed off the Prom to car parking, and closed the two public carparks, the cars have just migrated to Threadneedle Road and their estate.

Seamount is a private estate and the road has not been taken in charge by the Council. The residents have clubbed together and hired a clamping company, which will erect signs in the coming days and begin clamping illegally parked cars from next week.

Residents said they are also concerned that cars parked on Threadneedle Road are making it more difficult for buses to pass, and cause congestion.

A residents’ spokesperson said: “Since the lockdown, they closed off the Prom and closed off Salthill car park but people are still using the Prom and swimming off Blackrock. I have huge admiration for the swimmers, I do it myself when it’s warmer. But what’s happening is they park on both sides of Threadneedle Road, because there’re no yellow lines on either side of it and it’s not wide enough for cars to be parked either side of it, so buses are getting stuck.”
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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CITY TRIBUNE

NUIG President’s upset at Covid breaches on campus

Enda Cunningham

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – “I work in the hospital and we have had a really awful six weeks. We have nowhere to sit down and have our breaks. We are exhausted and would long to see family and friends. To see public health guidelines [being flouted] on NUIG property is a kick in the teeth.”

These are the words of an angry and frustrated healthcare worker at University Hospital Galway in a message sent to the head of NUIG.

President Ciarán Ó hÓgartaigh told students and staff at the university this week that he found it “deeply frustrating” that some students were flouting public health guidelines.

The HSE has confirmed that there were at least 441 cases of Covid in the city’s 18-24 age group – which has affected 224 households – in the past three weeks.

“Our neighbours contacted me expressing their upset at what they see as activities by our students that do not respect the health and safety of the community at large. People who work in the health service, people who have lost friends and relations to Covid-19. I share their upset.

“I was struck, for example, by one particularly heartfelt message from a local healthcare worker and campus user who shared their frustration with me last week on seeing groups congregating and socialising on campus grounds and which they agreed we could share,” Prof Ó hÓgartaigh said.

The head of the university shared the message in an email to students and staff this week, adding that students had expressed frustration that study spaces were not open on campus and at the challenges posed by the constricted spaces in which they study.

NUIG confirmed to the Galway City Tribune this week that it had imposed sanctions on a number of students in relation to Covid breaches, while there have been none at GMIT.
This is a brief 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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CITY TRIBUNE

Principals band together for safer cycling infrastructure

Denise McNamara

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From this week’s Galway City Tribune – A total of 28 Galway City school principals have signed an open letter to the Minister for Transport and local councillors highlighting the need for safer cycling infrastructure around schools, to encourage students and staff to switch to bikes.

The push by Government to cycle or walk where possible during the pandemic has its limitations in a city where cycle lanes are rare and parents are too afraid to let their children cycle on narrow roads often choked with traffic.

A group of cycling enthusiasts in city schools has been campaigning to encourage the school community to engage with Galway City Council’s public consultation process for the next development plan which will have a key role in deciding whether cycling lanes or off-road cycle routes become a reality.

The first stage of the initial consultation process for the ‘City Development Plan 2023-2029, Your City, Your Future’ closes today (Friday). But the process will continue for two more years with more consultation encouraged once the draft plan is published.

This week a letter from 28 principals sent to councillors called for support for the provision of better cycle infrastructure in and around all schools. It has also been sent to Transport Minister Eamon Ryan and Galway West TD and Minister of State at Cabinet, Hildegarde Naughton.

“It is our view that existing road infrastructure around schools can be unsafe for children, teachers, and families who wish to cycle to school and we would like to encourage the development safe cycling routes in the future,” the letter states.

Principal of Coláiste na Coiribe, Eoghan Ó Ceallaigh, said it was important for the school community to get involved with the public consultation.

(Photo: Last year, the Council introduced a ‘School Streets’ pilot scheme at Scoil Iognáid, which bans cans during certain times, encouraging parents and children to walk or cycle. Schools now want proper cycling infrastructure put in place).
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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