Forensic lab workers threaten strike over staffing

 

Staff at the State’s Forensic Science Laboratory are poised to strike next month in protest at the failure of the Government to recruit staff.

IMPACT, representing the 50 professional and technical staff at the laboratory, said its members were dealing with forensic evidence for nearly 9,000 cases. Five thousand of these have been delayed by over six months, rendering forensic evidence useless in some cases.

Staff at the State laboratory voted 37-9 in favour of strike action after a 98 per cent turnout in a ballot.

The strike, protesting the failure by the Government to implement a Deloitte & Touche consultants' report published last March, is set to commence on March 4th next.

IMPACT is calling for the immediate implementation of the report, which includes recommendations for the employment of 17 extra technical and professional staff, the establishment of a national DNA database for convicted criminals and a pay increase of up to 10 per cent for forensic scientists - to bring them in line with other scientists working in the civil service.

IMPACT spokesman Mr Ray Ryan said none of the recommendations had been implemented to date despite the report’s "dire warning about failure to act immediately".

Fine Gael spokesman for justice Mr Alan Shatter said today Minister for Justice Mr John O’Donoghue was "allowing many drug dealers to walk free becasue drug samples cannot be analysed in time for prosecutions to be brought" in court.

Mr Shatter said he had raised the matter with the Minister three months ago and that his failure to act was "disgraceful".