SIPTU fear awards will not be paid

FEARS are growing that a number of staff who were dismissed from Avondale Nursing Home will be unable to secure damages from the owner of the home.

FEARS are growing that a number of staff who were dismissed from Avondale Nursing Home will be unable to secure damages from the owner of the home.

Miriam Holmes was not contactable this week and according to locals she was sighted at Dublin Airport boarding a plane.

In 2009, five members of SIPTU were constructively dismissed after they raised concerns over the welfare of elderly patients at the home. Last month, the Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) found that SIPTU members including Mary Dunne and her daughter, Erica, from Callan were constructively dismissed after nursing home director, Miriam Holmes, failed to appear to offer any defence to their claims on three occasions.

Mary and Erica Dunne were dismissed after they complained over the inadequate care of patients at the home.

Following the EAT decision, Mary and Erica Dunne, are to be awarded compensation although this is now in jeopardy following the closure of the home. The EAT heard that the SIPTU members were forced to leave their jobs after they were “constantly bullied” by the private nursing home director.

Seven other SIPTU members who worked at the home have also taken cases for unfair dismissal and constructive dismissal against their former employer. Four have already successfully taken a case at the Rights Commissioners for unfair dismissal and constructive dismissal but have appealed the size of their award to the EAT.

According to SIPTU Organiser, Denis Hynes, union members are concerned that the awards promised at the EAT will not be honoured following the closure of the home. “We are concerned that our members will not receive the awards from the EAT because in blowing the whistle and reporting their concerns to HIQA they are now out of work and the nursing home owner is out of business and may not be obliged to pay,” Denis Hynes said. “However, our members are pleased and hopeful that the patients will now be properly cared for,” he added.