Amber Women’s Refuge staff strike over job cuts

Kilkenny’s Amber Women’s Refuge has become embroiled in an industrial dispute, with staff now out on strike over the management’s unilateral move to implement job losses.

Kilkenny’s Amber Women’s Refuge has become embroiled in an industrial dispute, with staff now out on strike over the management’s unilateral move to implement job losses.

Ten people, including SIPTU members of staff and solidarity demonstrators, began a picket outside the centre on the Dublin Road on Monday morning. They are protesting the decision by the management to make redundant five shift attendants, without consulting the trade union.

They have demonstrated for two hours daily each morning this week. Adamant that the centre’s vital services will not be affected by the action, the workers say they intend to continue the strike until the company engages with them and the union.

Today (Wednesday), union representatives as well as management are due to meet the Labour Relations Commission in what is being hailed as tentative progress by SIPTU community sector organiser Eddie Mullins.

“It is a little further on than where we were,” he said.

“But the last thing we want to do with this is affect the services.”

Socialist party representative Conor Mac Liam also joined protestors. His wife, the late Susi Long was part of a negotiating team that several years ago agreed conditions with management regarding work practices.

Mr Mac Liam says that the management has begun to roll back on some of the key issues – notably that workers would not have to work shifts on their own – which he says will have to happen following the job losses.

In total, 28 people work at the refuge, which provides support services for women who have experienced abuse. SIPTU staff members voted last week in a ballot to take the industrial action if no consultation regarding the job cuts occurred in the meantime.

Mr Mullins said that the industrial action was regrettable, but necessary – and that the management’s actions thus far had been ‘unacceptable’.

“The management decided not to negotiate and instead unilaterally implement compulsory redundancies beginning on Monday, July 23, with five shift attendants losing their jobs,” he said.

“This move even contradicts the advice of an independent consultant, hired by management, who advised that there should be consultations with the workers’ union before any job losses were implemented.”