More picketing due at Wexford creche
THE FDYS in Wexford faces more disruption this week as youth and creche workers stage a second in a series of pickets to press demands for their employer to recognise SIPTU as the workers' union representative.
Around 20 creche workers picketed the Junglebox community childcare centre for an hour on Wednesday morning, their action followed by a similar hour-long picket of the adjacent FDYS head office as the first picket ended. The FDYS decided to open both centres an hour late and is expected to do the same on Wednesday this week (June 24) when the action will be repeated.
Workers on the picket line aired a variety of grievances. One said that despite the creche staff potentially coming into contact with 'childhood diseases' such as measles, the FDYS has unilaterally cut their sick-leave entitlement.
'We have to deal with children with conditions like measles. If we have to stay off work, we don't get paid. There was no debate, no discussion,' said one.
'The last place we want to be is out here,' said one of the picketing workers, 'however, we have been forced into this because they don't listen to us.'
'We thought long and hard about this action, but they didn't sit down and talk to us and that's what we want.'
Gerry Flanagan, branch organiser for SIPTU, who was out on the picket lines with the workers, said the industrial action had been voted for by a large majority of their number.
'It's extremely sad that it has come to this,' said Mr. Flanagan. He said workers who talked to the media had been threatened with disciplinary action by FDYS and SIPTU would be prepared to fight this, should it happen.
'There has been a long period of time during which staff have tried to get their employers to recognise SIPTU to represent their interests on a number of issues, the latest of these a unilateral change in sick-leave entitlement. The FDYS has refused to engage with the LRC in relation to it and have refused to respond to petitions sent in by our members,' said Mr. Flanagan.
He said workers at the FDYS had held two ballots, one for the picketing and another in relation to full strike action.
The industrial action is at the moment confined to Wexford town.
A spokesman for the FDYS said the organisation has had to cut expenditure in recent years but has achieved this without any cuts in pay or with any redundancies.
'To maintain services in this way, FDYS has had to bring sick pay into line with industry standards - that is from twelve weeks to seven days. Many staff have accepted this,' he said. Both the youth service and creche had to be fully staffed to operate, so would be closed during the picketing.