Saturday, April 17, 2010

Rumours of serious industrial relations unrest at Irish Red Cross intensify

In our article of 2nd April 2010 this Blog made reference to rumblings within the organisation of a serious destabilisation of staff/management relations at head quarters. The article reported that problems began before Christmas with the disgraceful treatment and eventual redundancy of the former and highly respected Community Services Officer. The situation has deteriorated ever since with one member telling this blog 'its hard to get exact information but what seems certain is that since December there is an atmosphere of fear and deep mistrust between staff and the Acting Secretary General. This is a matter of serious concern so I just hope members on the Executive Committee are fully aware of what is going on and plan to do something about it before serious and long lasting damage is caused'.

Members with whom this Blog speaks all say that more and more rumours are circulating about a very serious and potentially explosive industrial relations situation brewing at head office. While specific details are hard to come by this Blog understands that the organisation is attempting to make unnecessary and severe reductions in the pension and salary benefits of staff. While not able to confirm, we have reason to believe the matter has been twice referred to the Labour Court with little or no progress made. It would appear that staff are questioning the financial need for the proposed changes and argue that the organisation has mismanaged its finances and staff should not be the ones to pay for this incompetence. They also point out that in 2008 over €300,000 was paid in Consultant/Professional Fees and in 2009 another €300,000 was again paid in Consultant/Professional Fees. In particular it is known that one specific consultant was paid over €150,000 in 2008 and over €160,000 in 2009. Figures for Consultancy fees for 2010 are obviously not yet known but what is known is that somewhere between five and seven consultants are currently engaged by the organisation, all receiving very handsome daily rates. One member reported to this Blog 'I do not understand why staff would be treated so badly and I am very concerned about the situation. I want to know if members of the Executive Committee are making these decisions as a group or whether one or two individuals are driving an agenda that others are kept in the dark about. My own experience of head office staff is that they are a very loyal, committed and hard working bunch of people but the ruling elite seem determined to punish them because of their constant calls for reform of the organisation. This is not acceptable and what is very worrying is how very very afraid everybody seems. Something must be done about this before we are once again the subject of more damaging media publicity but more importantly before the problem gets out of hand'

This Blog is very concerned that an atmosphere of fear and mistrust pervades our head quarters. We as members can only imagine how difficult such a working environment must be. We as members must therefore ensure we are fully informed as to what is really going on. We must contact our Executive Committee members to ascertain the facts and their plans to rectify the matter. We must not be afraid for we have responsibilities to ourselves, the organisation and the staff who so admiringly serve the organisation. As a wise proverb says 'Fear makes the wolf bigger than he is' so we must show courage. Courage of course is not the lack of fear but the ability to face it. We have to recognise there is nothing to fear except the persistent refusal to find out the truth, the persistent refusal to analyse the causes of what is happening.

We will conclude this Blog article with a quote which we hope will provide encouragement to members around the country who wish to see change in the Irish Red Cross and to head office staff who seem to be going through a most difficult and frightening time.

You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do. Dont be afraid to go out on a limb. That is where the fruit is.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous4:31 PM

    While your commitment to much needed reform is admirable, publishing information discussed in confidence and good faith in the course of union meetings and private conversations is far more likely to contribute to the atmosphere of fear, intimidation and mistrust than alleviate it. In fact it is likely to breed distrust between colleagues and so seems short sighted and counter productive.