‘Plans in place’ for Oberstown strike

Contingency plans have been developed at Oberstown Children Detention Centre should a threatened staff strike go ahead in the new year, according to the minister for children.

Answering questions in the Dáil from Labour’s Jan O’Sullivan and Sinn Féin’s Donnacha O’Laoighaire, Minister Katherine Zappone said she hopes strike action will be averted.

Impact, department officials and staff met earlier this month and “are in discussion to move forward matters regarding the safety and wellbeing of staff and children”.

Impact members working at the campus voted overwhelmingly for strike action because of staff fears around violent incidents at the centre. It said management has refused to make personal protective clothing available to staff in dangerous situations even though violence is a “regular hazard” at the site.

The union plans to commence a withdrawal of labour by residential care workers, night supervising officers and middle management grades from January 3.

A community safety plan has been drawn up following meetings between the department and residents from Oberstown.

A range of reviews are under way at the centre including an independent review of operations, an independent expert review of security, of health and safety, and of the behaviour management programme currently in use.

“Given the many initiatives under way, which are known to all parties in the context of the process in the Workplace Relations Commission, I am very disappointed that there is still a danger of further industrial action in early January,” said Ms Zappone.

According to Impact, it gave a longer notice period in order to enable management to put alternative care and security arrangements in place during the planned strike. The minimum legal strike notice requirement is one week.

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