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Dublin: 10 °C Thursday 23 May, 2019
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SNAs at Dublin school to get €650 gift vouchers to carry out toileting duties for special needs pupils

The Labour Court made the recommendation as a measure to halt the dispute between SNAs and Scoil Muchua.

Image: Shutterstock/maroke

THE LABOUR COURT has recommended that a 23 strong group of Special Needs Assistants (SNAs) drop their objection to carrying out toileting duties for special needs pupils at a well-known Dublin school and now carry out the tasks.

In return, the Labour Court has recommended that the SNAs each receive gift vouchers totally €650 from Scoil Muchua which is attached to the Central Remedial Clinic (CRC) for carrying out the toileting duties.

The Labour Court has made the recommendation containing the €14,920 total in gift vouchers for the 23 as a means to resolving the dispute between the SNAs and school management.

In the case, school management told the Labour Court that it simply requires the SNAs to do tasks that are reasonably required of all SNAs who work in similar schools as has been recognised by the Department of Education in their various circulars.

The school also pointed out that the SNAs employed after 2016 at Scoil Muchua are fulfilling this role and the school wants to ensure equality in the workplace.

The school stated that the increased pressure on the healthcare and nursing staff cannot continue.

In support of their argument, school management cited a department circular which points out that the functions of SNAs include the toileting needs of children who are doubly incontinent and who require nappies and children who are doubly incontinent and who require the constant or occasional use of adult continence pads.

The school does not dispute that traditionally this cohort of workers have not carried out these duties but as the demands on the services provided by the school increase, the school now needs all the SNAs to carry out these duties.

In response, Forsa union told the court that the work in question amounts to a change in their terms of employment.

They contended that the students in question have complex toileting needs that the school and other special schools had previously identified as requiring support from Nursing staff or from healthcare assistants.

The union claimed that the role of the SNA is to provide support in an educational context and to free up the teacher.

Forsa also argued that the SNAs and Scoil Mochua have developed a practice of assisting children who required assistance rather than children who required a fuller intervention.

Forsa claimed that to agree with the employer’s requirement in terms of the toileting role would fundamentally change the role of the SNA in this employment.

In its recommendation, the Labour Court found that the fact that workers had not previously carried out a duty cannot mean that they are permanently exempted from carrying out that duty.

In the recommendation, the court has recommended that the carrying out by the 23 of toileting duties be fully operational by 1 January next.

The court has recommended that the 23 in return for their cooperation receive a gift voucher of €400 prior to Christmas and a further gift voucher of €250 two months after the new duties become operational.

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Gordon Deegan

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