18th February 2013 – Strike action to begin at St James’s Hospital, Dublin, from tomorrow over suspension of electricians in health and safety dispute
The Technical Engineering and Electrical Union will place pickets on St James’s Hospital over electrical safety issues from starting time tomorrow February 19th, 2013. Several electricians at the Hospital, suspended on October 24th 2012, 17 weeks ago, remain suspended and other electricians have been threatened with disciplinary action.
“Their only crime was to lock electrical panels to prevent unqualified personnel from accessing the panels and thus interfering with the electrical equipment, which was a potential danger to the electricians, other employees and patients at the Hospital”, TEEU General Secretary Eamon Devoy said today. “Our members took these safety measures to ensure that they had safe systems of work and their colleagues had a safe place of work consistent with Health and Safety legislation.
“The TEEU has agreed to attend Labour Court talks with a view to resolving the dispute, but Management has refused to do so, despite repeated requests from the Labour Relations Commission. When management took the unprecedented step of suspending our members, the TEEU engaged the services of a Safety Consultant, Michael Hanly, a former ESB Safety Manager and Past President of the Electro-Technical Council of Ireland (ETCI) to investigate our concerns and his report does not support the suspension of the Electricians.”
Acting on a complaint from the TEEU, Inspectors from the Health and Safety Authority also conducted an investigation at the Hospital and found a lack of adequate safe systems of work, the need for authorised persons to be identified under the electrical regulations and the need for additional procedures to protect employees, and others, from exposure to live electrical conductors.
“This vindicates the position of the suspended electricians”, Mr Devoy said. “The TEEU is satisfied that our members acted correctly and should not be disciplined for acting on Health and Safety grounds. Management, rather than go to the Labour Court, seems determined to proceed with disciplinary action up to and including the dismissal of our members. The TEEU will use all means at its disposal to protect our members in this dispute.”
The TEEU has applied for an all-out picket and other unions at hospital are currently balloting members. Emergency cover will be provided during the dispute.
Video © Paula Geraghty