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Treatment of staff at City Hall is slammed

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The treatment of Council staff at City Hall has been condemned by a Sinn Féin councillor.

Cllr Cathal Ó Conchúir criticised the conduct of some councillors when dealing with employees at City Hall and said that respect, equality and dignity at work are hugely important issues – particularly inflection and projection of voice when dealing with staff.

He told of how in his two years as a city councillor, he had witnessed “perceived intimidation” of full-time workers with the Council.

“We have to be cognisant as councillors of respect of equality at work.

“There is too much intimidation of people and too much shouting at people who work here on a nine to five basis,” said Cllr Ó Conchúir.

He was speaking after a presentation to Galway City Council by Fiona Dunne of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions.

Cllr Billy Cameron (Lab) denounced attitudes towards trade unions in the business community and slammed employers who refuse to recognise them

“The power of unions has been decimated – collective bargaining has been diminished by multinationals; I believe in a living wage and the onus is on us as public representatives to respect the dignity of workers,” he said.

Cllr Cameron also referred to the treatment of workers by Samuel Kingston Construction while the regeneration of Eyre Square was taking place – something which he believed the council should ensure never happens again.

A motion supporting the introduction of a living wage of €11.50 per hour, proposed by Cllr Níall McNelis (Lab), was passed by council.

The motion states: “This council supports the introduction of a Living Wage to all directly engaged, contracted and sub-contracted staff.”

It also recognises the importance of collective bargaining and negotiation with trade unions.

Cllr Frank Flannery (Fine Gael) believed that while the living wage was appropriate, he said it should be an aspiration for start-ups.

“There are conditions where businesses can’t afford to pay €11.50 per hour – sometimes there has to be an exception.

“We have to leave the door open for those in that position,” said Cllr Flannery.

In response to this, Ms Dunne argued that businesses are not the only ones struggling, with some families choosing between eating and sending their children to school.

“We do understand that businesses have their difficulties but there are also struggling families,” she said.

Dunnes Stores workers were highlighted by many councillors and Ms Dunne as an example of the poor treatment of workers and interaction with unions.

Cllr Mike Cubbard (Ind) noted that Lidl had started paying employees the living wage and asked the ICTU representative if there had been a similar move from Irish companies like Dunnes.

Ms Dunne informed the council that despite a wage increase a year ago, there had been no improvement of conditions for the Irish supermarket chain’s employees.

“In terms of Dunnes Stores, they increased the hourly rate a year ago but they have reduced the hours of employees there – they don’t talk to unions and don’t go to the Labour Court,” said Ms Dunne.

Connacht Tribune

Covid boosts college coffers

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NUI Galway

NUI Galway reported an operating surplus of almost €19 million during the first year of the Covid-19 pandemic when its campus was closed for months.

The healthy finances reported by NUIG has prompted its student body to call for it to waive repeat exams’ fees and student levies, and to invest in mental health services.

Consolidated financial statements for NUIG for the year ended September 30 2020 show the university reported an operating surplus of €18.9 million. This was up by €16 million on the surplus generated in 2019.

The financial statement said that while Covid-19 was ‘extremely challenging’, the ‘extraordinary dedication and work ethic of its staff have mitigated against the financial impact’ of the year.

The report said a surplus of €18.9 million was a ‘commendable performance’ given that 95%  of staff and students withdrew from campus in March 2020 to study and work remotely in line with Government regulations.

It noted that core income fell by a net €4 million compared with the previous year.

“Drops in research income of €9m and a Covid-related decline in commercial and student accommodation income of some €5m were offset by increased fee income of €4m, a €3m increase in the fair value of investments, and other increases of €3m relating to Government grants and other income,” the report said.

It said that the increase in Government grants includes Covid Support grant funding from the Higher Education Authority to cover additional specific Covid-19 related costs of €2.2m.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

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Connacht Tribune

Workers leave hospitality sector to seek job security

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Pearse Doherty...morale has never been lower.

The severe restrictions for hospitality and entertainment are widely expected to be lifted next month – but already workers in the sector are reportedly leaving in their droves to source more stable employment.

And that could spell disaster for Galway’s vibrant arts industry which is a crucial cog in the wheel of local tourism.

When Covid regulations are eased for those staging events – thought to be announced this week – one of their biggest challenges is to secure staff for operations, according to prominent Galway event organiser Pearse Doherty.

Morale has never been lower in the industry, with even loyal customers getting fed up having to book and reschedule constantly when the goalposts shift so many times for shows.

“I really think it’s going to be very difficult for any venue going back or festival being staged. I don’t think things are ever going to go back to normal. Any event over 5,000 people will likely have to have fewer tents, a bigger space – all these things have to be taken into consideration for people who invest in the business,” he reflects.

“Having 50 per cent capacity and closing time at 8pm does nothing to make things financially viable. A lot of business models are built on having a bar and selling to 100 per cent capacity so I’m just not sure how many will survive the pandemic, even with all the very welcome Government supports for the industry.”

He knows of many in the industry who are changing careers or moving abroad in search of work in a location where restrictions nowhere as strict.

The head of production for the doomed Galway Capital of Culture 2020, head of production for Aiken Promotions which is behind the biggest gigs in the country and the site manager for the Electric Picnic, Pearse has himself pivoted in his career, taking up the role of producer with Fíbín Theatre at An Taibhdhearc.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.

Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App

Download the Connacht Tribune Digital Edition App to access to Galway’s best-selling newspaper.

Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

Or purchase the Digital Edition for PC, Mac or Laptop from Pagesuite  HERE.

Get the Connacht Tribune Live app
The Connacht Tribune Live app is the home of everything that is happening in Galway City and county. It’s completely FREE and features all the latest news, sport and information on what’s on in your area. Click HERE to download it for iPhone and iPad from Apple’s App Store, or HERE to get the Android Version from Google Play.

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Connacht Tribune

Galway author dedicates children’s book to brave young nephew battling DMD

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Dedication....Fionn Brogan – new book aims to help in his fight.

A flying mouse with a skill for hurling is the subject of a book a Galway man has dedicated to his cousin’s son – six-year-old Fionn Brogan who, like Lumo the mouse, must overcome a myriad of challenges in his everyday life.

Ballinderreen man Tom Costelloe tells the Connacht Tribune he wrote the book to raise funds for his cousin Michael’s son, inspired by the strength and resilience Fionn has shown since his diagnosis of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) when he was just three years old.  A disease which attacks the muscles, DMD will leave Fionn unable to play football or do many of the things he loves to do as time goes on.

As a result, his family wants to raise enough funds to make the next few years the best possible for Fionn – and aim to adapt their house so he can freely use a power wheelchair among other alterations that will be required.

For Tom, who works as a speech and language therapist, the Covid lockdowns presented an opportunity to put pen to paper and create this story of Lumo, a mouse with wings.

“With a positive message of self-acceptance, the story is brought to life with wonderful colourful illustrations by Thomas Quinn from Kinvara.

“Like Lumo the flying mouse, Fionn and his family have no shortage of strength, resilience and sprit – and thanks to our printing costs being generously sponsored, every euro raised from the sales goes directly to the Fionn Brogan trust,” he says.

Tom, who lives in Galway City, says the family had a series of fundraisers over the past year and he hopes this will add to the momentum of achieving what’s necessary to support Fionn as he continues to defy all odds.

And through his work, he’s had a good research group to test-run Lumo – getting very positive feedback.

“I work with kids so they became my research team, and they were very useful in making sure the book was of interest,” he laughs.

‘Could a Flying Mouse Play Hurling?’ is available in in Clarke’s Pharmacy Kilcolgan, Burke’s Eurospar Kinvara, Circle-K Kinvara, Poppyseed Café Clarinbridge and First Chapter in Gort.  For more information on the Fionn Brogan Trust, visit fionnbrogantrust.ie where donations can also be made.

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