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Striking 999 operators 'cannot make promises' about protecting services, employer says

Over 80% of union members at the call centres balloted in favour of industrial action earlier this month.

Image: Shutterstock

THE COMPANIES OPERATING the state’s three emergency 999 call centres have questioned claims that a strike by operators will not affect the provision of emergency services.

Workers in the Navan centre are striking for 12 hours today in a dispute over pay, working conditions and trade union rights.

The Communications Workers’ Union has assured members of the public that the action will not impact on emergency answering services as two other centres will continue to operate as usual.

However, Conduit Global and BT Ireland said this morning that the union “cannot make promises to the public about what will happen to the service as it does not have a role in contingency planning”.

The third centre remains open this morning, they said, and an extra fourth site has been set up to give operators a choice of location to avoid what they called “the large numbers of unaffiliated protesters that the CWU have apparently invited along”.

The companies also criticised the union for not revealing how many members it has in the call centres.

It said the CWU had claimed that 84% of members supported the strike in a recent ballot but not clarified the specific number of workers who backed the vote.

“In effect, a non-recognised union has gone into a company, has not revealed its membership in that company, and brought about industrial action,” they said in a joint statement.

‘Disappointed’

The companies said earlier that there are 55 operators in total working on the emergency all answering service, spread across three counties on day and night shifts, and that it believed no more than 12 operators would therefore be protesting.

But Ian McArdle of the CWU disputed this figure on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, saying over 75% of staff at the Navan centre were union members.

The union is seeking a living staff wage of €11.50 an hour, collective bargaining rights, a fair on-call policy and an end to “punitive” suspensions.

Conduit Global has said it is “very disappointed” to see industrial action going ahead.

The stoppage began at 8am this morning and will continue until 8pm tonight.

The Department of Communications awarded the emergency call service contract to BT Ireland in 2009 before it was outsourced to Conduit Global.

Read: 999 call-centre company insists it will be business as usual tomorrow, despite workers’ strike

About the author:

Catherine Healy

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