Gaeltacht strike for Labour Court

 

THE FIRST industrial strike in the State’s largest Gaeltacht in 30 years is due to be discussed at a Labour Court hearing today.

Staff at a Gaeltacht community development company Meitheal Forbartha na Gaeltachta (MFG) Teo have been picketing their head office in Inverin, Co Galway, for almost a month over pay cuts and a management decision to serve four staff at the Rosmuc office with redundancy notices.

Siptu, which represents the staff, said the “unilateral action” by the company left the union with no alternative but to ballot its members on strike action.

MFG was awarded the contract for delivery of the Government’s 2007-2013 rural development programme in the Gaeltacht regions.

It was established in 1991 by a group of community activists, who had applied for the delivery of leader rural development funding in the Gaeltacht.

Latterly, it has been funded under the Local and Community Development Programme, which had its budget cut from €800,000 to €500,000 by the last government.

The four jobs that management have sought to axe involve officers working on a variety of programmes, ranging from job initiatives to classroom assistants and community carers to information and advocacy on behalf of the Citizens’ Information service.

MFG board and Udarás na Gaeltachta member Seosamh Ó Cuaig said he believed the jobs should be protected as they affected programmes designed to assist a deprived rural area extending from Rosmuc across Connemara. “I think a solution can be found, as staff are open to discussions,” he said.

The dispute arose when redundancy notice was served on four of the 10 staff at the MFG Rosmuc office on February 23rd.

Siptu says this was without notice to or negotiation with the union.

“Siptu does not accept that redundancies are required in order to operate within the 2011 budgets,” it said. It said it has submitted a proposal to MFG management that is “workable and which maintains jobs and in turn protects the valuable services provided in the communities by our members”.

Siptu said it is seeking the withdrawal of redundancy notices so that the parties can “engage in meaningful discussions” to “find a satisfactory resolution to the issues”.

MFG’s chief executive Gearóid de Faoite declined to comment.