Oireachtas ushers pass motion of no confidence

The main issues of concern for the ushers focus on rostering and worries about possible loss of earnings

An usher in the entrance lobby of Leinster House:  their  main issues of concern focus on rostering and worries about possible loss of earnings, as well as their  safety

An usher in the entrance lobby of Leinster House: their main issues of concern focus on rostering and worries about possible loss of earnings, as well as their safety

Fri, Aug 8, 2014, 01:04

The Leinster House ushers, whose job is to keep order in the Oireachtas, have passed a motion of no confidence in their management in a dispute over staffing arrangements and conditions. They have detailed their grievances in a strongly worded letter to the superintendent of the House.

The ushers were also angered by the recent disclosure in the Houses of the Oireachtas annual report that four staff shared bonus payments totalling €10,330 last year while costs were being cut elsewhere, such as in failing to provide new uniforms since January 2013.

They submitted a Freedom of Information request querying the payments and were told they were given to unnamed staff in the print, Irish language, secretary general and superintendent’s sections, with numerous staff in each section.

The main issues of concern for the ushers, who are paid at the clerical officer scale in the Civil Service, focus on rostering and worries about possible loss of earnings, as well as the safety of those required to work early shifts on their own at the entrances to Leinster House.

In a letter, they told Paul Conway, the superintendent, that his “indifference on the deterioration of parliamentary ushers standard of dress has also caused much frustration”.

They have also objected to the conditions at the glass entrance on the Kildare Street side of Leinster House, which has a rat problem. “The parliamentary ushers also condemn your handling of the offending odour of decaying rodents at Kildare Street Pavilion,” the letter to Mr Conway adds. “We believe your attempted efforts of solutions and remedies continue to show little regard for your colleagues.”

At a meeting of the parliamentary ushers branch of the Impact trade union late last month, a motion of no confidence in Mr Conway was unanimously passed by those present. The letter was then sent to Mr Conway, and was also posted to numerous locations accessed by ushers and some other staff in Leinster House.

“The sentiment behind this motion was created and fostered by your reluctance and unwillingness to accept or consider compromise on many issues of concern to parliamentary ushers,” it adds. “The parliamentary ushers wish to convey in the most strongest possible manner our continued frustration at your refusal to engage in partnership and consider compromise on the motions passed and endorsed at our previous parliamentary ushers agms.

“These motions embraced the principles of fairness, equality and transparency.”

Earlier this year, a man was arrested after attempting to enter Leinster House armed with a sword and a number of knives. No one was injured in the incident, which happened at about 4.30pm, but the Oireachtas ushers worry they could have to deal with a similar situation on their own.

They claim Mr Conway displayed a “continued reluctance to support our proposal for mutual support for parliamentary ushers starting duty at 6.30am, following an attempted breach of security where a protester armed with knives and sword attempted to access our national parliament”.

The Houses of Oireachtas declined to comment and said Mr Conway was unavailable for comment himself.