Former Limerick sports complex staff to fight on

Nick Rabbitts

Reporter:

Nick Rabbitts

REDUNDANT staff workers of St Enda’s Sports Complex have vowed to continue protesting until the government pays the €130,000 they are owed.

REDUNDANT staff workers of St Enda’s Sports Complex have vowed to continue protesting until the government pays the €130,000 they are owed.

The Kilmallock Road sports complex - which contained the southside’s only public swimming pool - closed in February 2011, putting 27 staff out of work.

The Department of Education, which owned the facility, cited health and safety as the reason for its closure.

Unhappy at getting only statutory redundancy, the staff, supported by SIPTU, appealed to the Labour Court which recommended they get four weeks pay for each year of service.

With the Labour Court’s ruling not legally binding, the Department of Education has so far not paid up.

And desperate workers are now a week into a protest outside the neighbouring school - also facing closure - in a bid to get the money they are owed.

Staff spokesman Ray Healy, Norwood Park, says altogether staff would be owed €100,000 in unpaid redundancy, if the Labour Court ruling was implemented.

Additionally, he claimed the Department of Education also owed three members of staff €10,000 back pay in their salaries.

“This would make a massive difference to me: it could mean me holding onto my house. A lot of people here also have mortgages and bills to pay,” he said.

Staff representatives met with Education Minister Ruairi Quinn in March, but they had not heard anything since, he added.

SIPTU chairman Frank McDonnell has urged local TDs, Michael Noonan and Jan O’Sullivan to intervene.

He said: “Every government should honour a Labour Court recommendation - because to do so otherwise is to undermine the highest industrial relations arm of the state.”

SIPTU organiser Bill Mulcahy added if the impasse continues, they will set up an official union picket outside the school building. At present, it is just a protest.

The workers were joined by local TDs Willie O’Dea and Kieran O’Donnell, as well as Janesboro councillor Ger Fahy, a former chairperson of the complex.

He slammed the Department of Education, saying that with only a small amount of money, the complex would have become self-financing, and ultimately not been axed.