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Alex White shirking his responsibilities as ECAS workers simply seek dignity – Tóibín

27 January, 2016

Speaking as ECAS workers prepare to ballot for industrial action, Sinn Féin Spokesperson for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Peadar Tóibín TD has stated that he is deeply concerned by complaints from workers in the Emergency Call Answering Service, as run by Conduit and BT Ireland.

Deputy Tóibín said:

“They have informed me about a harsh regime with workers regularly subjected to investigations, unnecessary suspensions and punitive sanctions for the most minor of mistakes. One ECAS worker alleged she has been suspended from work for a total of three months out of the past six without seeing details of the allegations against her and without a date for a hearing in which she can defend herself. This goes directly against the principles of natural justice. Her union, the Communications Workers' Union, is taking this matter extremely seriously and has lodged a complaint to the WRC.

“A briefing paper by the Oireachtas Public Accounts Committee in May noted that Ireland’s Emergency Call Answering Service (ECAS) is “one of the fastest in Europe” yet these Emergency Service workers are paid below the living wage of €11.50 per hour and are refused collective trade union representation.

“Workers have also alleged that staff have been forced to go to a hospital Emergency Department due to gas leaking into their office and despite this, the shift following the incident ended up in ED also. The latest news, that staff who maybe 40 or 50 years old and who have reared families, need to ask permission from younger management for a timed toilet break is an attack on their dignity.

“The ECAS contract is a state contract. He who pays the piper should call the tune. On the 9th of December last year I asked Alex White through a Parliamentary Question to ensure that workers who were suffering these ongoing difficulties would be treated with respect and dignity. Labour’s Alex White responded that this was not his responsibility. Labour have previous when it comes to this.  Minister Jan O Sullivan refused to intervene when workers working on a Department of Education contract at Kishogue were being paid €5 an hour.”

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