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Dublin: 12 °C Wednesday 3 September, 2014

Equality expert to examine if Croke Park proposals are “anti-women”

Unions opposed to the Croke Park II deal have called in the equality expert to see if women will be dispoportionately affected by changes to shift work.

 Public servants in the education sector attend a rally in the Gresham Hotel
Public servants in the education sector attend a rally in the Gresham Hotel
Image: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

AN EQUALITY EXPERT has been asked by unions to look at the Croke Park II proposals amid fears that they could disproportionately affect female public sector workers.

The INMO, the Irish Medical Organisation, the Civil and Public Services Union and the UNITE union, together with the 24/7 Alliance, have come together to campaign for members to reject the proposals on an extension to the Croke Park Agreement.

Analysis

Their analysis of the proposals state that a nurse/midwife or other shift worker on €35,000 per annum, on a normal rotational shift, will lose up to 8 per cent of their pay, while someone working normal office hours on €100,000 will lose 6 per cent of their salary.

Community nursing grades, and nurses/midwives who work on a straight shift basis, will face longer working hours and paused increments.

This effectively reduces their hourly rate of pay.  Furthermore nurse/midwife managers face pay reductions and a freeze on their increments while being required to broaden their scope of responsibility.

An INMO spokesperson told TheJournal.ie that: “We have serious concerns about the anti-family, anti-female slant of these proposals.”

According to the National Women’s Council of Ireland, the majority of part-time workers are women, and women in Ireland tend to be disproportionately represented in the public sector force and in part-time work.

The majority of part time midwives, nurses and healthcare assistants are female and there are more females in the lower paid grades in the civil service. “Anybody who is dependent on less than full time work in the public sector is more than likely female,” said the INMO spokesperson.

The introduction of flexible hours and work-sharing “took us years to negotiate”, she said, “and we got it in line with most of the legislation for part time workers based on EU legislation”. Under this, working anything over 8 hours means you can be considered a permanent employee.

The proposals would mean those who work share, which is part-time work, will have to work 50 per cent of the full time equivalent to be considered a permanent employee.  They will be given one year to migrate to the new arrangements.

The women working part time in the public sector may be doing so because they are raising children or caring for family or relatives, but want to keep on some employment. They may be highly skilled. If they migrate to shift work under the proposal, they may find it harder to get childcare.

The unions believe that this may lead women to question “can I go to work?” “Why should a Government impose a restriction like that? It is not going to save money,” said the spokesperson.

It looks like if you can’t that there will be no work. This is a very strange proposal from a Labour government.

She continued:

We are getting an equality expert to look at the proposals, from the point of view they would mitigate against women staying in the workplace. It would have a negative impact on the good things we’ve tried to introduce during the years, like flexible work agreements etc.”

The proposals include:

  • No work sharing should be less than 50 per cent of full time working hours
  • If working less than 50 per cent currently, will be migrated to new arrangements within a period of 12 months
  • Formal annual review of work sharing
  • First review must be completed before the end of 2013
  • If a person chooses to remain on existing hours, pay will be reduced as a result of a longer working week

Meetings

The INMO is hoping to start balloting in less than a fortnight and anticipates receiving the results from the equality expert before then.

So far, they have held meetings in Limerick, Letterkenny, Galway, which were “well-attended”. The next meetings will take place in Sligo, Waterford and Dundalk in the coming week.

Read: Unions to hold Croke Park II public meeting in Dublin>

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