Funds to be frozen in union dismissal probe

THE Building and Allied Trades Union (BATU) is to have its funds frozen as part of a probe following the dismissal of two long-term officials.

Three of the BATU’s four trustees are understood to have met with bank officials and requested that all the union’s accounts be frozen pending an investigation into the running of the organisation.

In addition, some members of BATU have called for the removal of general secretary Paddy O’Shaughnessy from his position.

There has been considerable disharmony at the union since the May Day dismissal of two union officials Tom Fitzgerald and Robert Kelly.

BATU let them go claiming there had been decreased levels of employment in the construction industry and it had been forced to scale back on the number of its officials.

Tom Fitzgerald, who has eight years’ experience and Robert Kelly, who has four years, said the union did not use the “first-in, last-out” approach preached by the trade union movement to employers.

Prior to their dismissal the two men had joined UNITE trade union and in recent weeks, as members of their new union, they have been picketing the BATU headquarters in Dublin.

On Monday night, a meeting of a section of the BATU membership took place.

According to members of the self-titled BATU Members’ Action Group, the meeting called for the union to be “taken back”, for “democratic accountability” and for the general secretary Paddy O’Shaughnessy to “step aside”.

However, yesterday Mr Shaughnessy said he had no intention of abdicating his position.

He said Monday’s meeting was not an official BATU gathering — it was addressed by a UNITE official — and he maintained he and his national executive had done nothing wrong in dismissing the two officials.

He also said the trustees had not informed himself or the national executive of its intention to freeze funding, as required under the union’s rules.

Meanwhile the Central Statistics Office yesterday confirmed there were 1,477 days lost to strike action in the first quarter of 2008.

The bulk of the days were lost at Novum Refrigeration in Coolock when 80 SIPTU members went on strike for in protest at lay-offs.

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