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Minister refuses to comment on NMI sick day crisis – Tóibín

31 May, 2017

Sinn Féin’s heritage spokesperson Peadar Tóibín TD has said that the proportion of people taking sick leave days in the National Museum of Ireland (NMI) is a cause of grave concern. Deputy Tóibín also said that the Minister for heritage Heather Humphreys reticence to deal with the matter shows a distinct absence of leadership.

Teachta Tóibín said;

“Sick leave days taken by staff of the National Museum of Ireland are double the average of the public sector and nearly 4 times higher than the private sector. A response to a Freedom of Information Request I sent to the NMI showed that 13,178 sick days were taken between the years of 2011-2016. This amounts to an average of almost 16 sick days per worker per year.

“There were also 15 people on long term sick leave during that period, with 6 on work related stress leave. This seems to be disproportionately high. Indeed the average amount of sick days for public servants as of 2014 was 8.7 days.

“Clearly this is a symptom of what some former employees have described it to me as a ‘toxic’ working environment. This is a problem that has been ongoing for years. I am disappointed with the laissez faire approach Minister Humphreys has taken throughout this entire saga.

“Minister Humphreys will states that she has no official responsibility for these matters. But a Service Level Agreement was signed by her department and the Board of NMI transferring many HR functions to the department between 2014-2016.

“While I’m glad progress appears to being made as regards a ‘masterplan’, by NMI’s own admission, another FOI document released to me stated that “there has been very little time to develop an integrated HR strategy.

“I can’t help but wonder that, if the Minister had the political will, this HR mess could have been dealt with sooner and more efficiently. This is an organisation not only under the auspices of her department, with all board members hand selected by the Minister but with one of the principle sites literally next door to the Houses of the Oireachtas.

“Employees have suffered greatly and huge costs have accrued to the state. It’s clear that corporate governance measures need to be tightened, and Sinn Féin are looking to ensure that similar situations will not be allowed to manifest again.”

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