Tuesday 18th April 2017: I am writing following recent media coverage on the payment of sleepover duties to staff working in Galway Simon residential services.
In September 2014, the Labour Court made a recommendation that sleepover duties be considered as working hours and that they should be paid as an hourly rate equal to that of the national minimum wage. This was as a result of a case brought on behalf of staff in the Intellectual Disability and Child Care Sectors. Previous to this in all care sectors, including our own, sleepovers were not treated as working hours and were paid as an allowance. Following lengthy discussions, the HSE agreed to fund the increase and organisations in the above sectors started to pay their staff the new rate.
Following the decision in 2014 Galway Simon has tried, on an ongoing basis, to secure funding to cover the increased cost from the HSE. We have argued that our staff members are performing the same duties as in other sectors and that they should be treated equally. In order to protect services to our clients we have also made it clear that without funding, we are not in a position to pay our staff according to the recommendation from the Labour Court. Unfortunately at the time of writing we have been unsuccessful in getting the necessary funds released.
Impact Trade Union has now balloted and received a mandate from its members to engage in strike action in pursuance of this claim. Impact also requested that the matter be discussed at a Workplace Relations Commission hearing which was held on Wednesday 12th April at our Head Office.
I want to make it absolutely clear that:
- Galway Simon believes that staff members doing sleepover duties should be paid the new rate.
- Galway Simon cannot pay this new rate without the necessary funding. We believe that we should be treated the same as organisations in other sectors who have been paid to bring in these changes. As such we believe the HSE has an obligation to release the necessary funds.
- We will not use funds donated by the public or funds raised from people who support our two shops in Galway to fund these wage increases.
- We hope that the union will not take any action that could interfere with the delivery of services to our clients. Impact assured us that any such action would be a last resort and they repeated that their issue was with the HSE as the funder and not with Galway Simon as the employer.
- We will not make any decision about this issue that would affect our ability to deliver services to the ever increasing numbers of households seeking our help.
At the WRC meeting held on the 12th of April it was agreed that:
- Impact Trade Union would postpone issuing strike notice until such time as the process we are in has exhausted itself.
- Galway Simon management will endeavour to pursue the issue once more with Senior Management in the HSE with a view to finding a solution before the issue is referred to the Labour Court.
- If the HSE does not respond favourably in a reasonable timeframe this matter will be referred to the Labour Court.
Following this meeting I wrote to the appropriate national officer at the HSE requesting their involvement and action in finding a solution to this issue.
I am happy to answer any queries on this matter and am contactable on 087 205 1483 or alternatively by e-mail to [email protected].
Bill Griffin, CEO