GoSafe speed cameras facing industrial action by workers

Consortium awarded €115.5m State contract in line for dispute over toilets, pay,conditions

 Siptu said notice of industrial action in ‘the coming days’ was intended to mean by the end of the week. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Siptu said notice of industrial action in ‘the coming days’ was intended to mean by the end of the week. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

GoSafe, the company which runs Ireland’s roadside speed monitoring vans, is set to face notice of industrial action by the end of the week in a row about pay and conditions.

The GoSafe consortium was awarded the State contract to operate the privatised speed cameras in 2016 for five years, in a deal reportedly worth up to €115.5 million.

Besides complaining about pay, Siptu GoSafe staff also allege that shift patterns are so strict that it leaves them with little choice but to carry a plastic bottle for use in toilet breaks.

Individual GoSafe drivers who have spoken anonymously to The Irish Times said they were employed on nine- or 11-hour shifts, most of which was spent in the van.

While they are allowed to take breaks, the possibility of giving evidence in court meant they had to be in operational charge of the van and camera equipment throughout the shift.

For many this meant eating lunch in the van. And while they are allowed outside to “stretch the legs”, the need to remain in operational control means they cannot go beyond sight of the van.

Staff also spoke of the danger of being attacked by the public and pressure to meet deadlines for travel when they journey between pre-selected checkpoints.

Efforts to contact GoSafe for a response were unsuccessful. But the obligations it faces to monitor speed means that industrial action could create significant problems for the company.

No option but strike vote

Any reduction in hours of roadside monitoring is also likely to have an impact on the State’s Road Safety Strategy, given the significance of speed in fatal and other serious road crashes.

Siptu organiser Brendan Carr said his members had no option but to vote for strike action after GoSafe insisted that issues should be dealt with through the company’s representative forum.

Mr Carr said the company had refused to implement a Labour Court recommendation which confirmed that it was Siptu representatives who have the sole right to negotiate on behalf of its members with management.

Mr Carr criticised what he described as “the unacceptable practice of Government departments issuing contracts for State services to companies who refuse to engage with the industrial relations bodies of the State.

“This is a completely unacceptable situation when such companies are in receipt of large amounts of public funds,” he said.

Asked if there was a timeline for industrial action Mr Carr replied “it is expected that notice of industrial action will be served by Siptu on the company in the coming days”. A Siptu source said “the coming days” was intended to mean by the end of the week.