Former SIPTU President pickets union office

Former SIPTU President Frank Mc Donnell who is picketing the union's Limerick headquarters.

A FORMER President of the SIPTU union in Limerick, who has been picketing the union’s offices in the city has claimed that he has been denied access to the office because he highlighted an issue affecting St Munchin’s Community employment schemes.

But SIPTU has said there was no such issue and points to the Data Protection laws as the reason why he is not allowed access to the office and members’ details on file.

In the meantime, Frank McDonnell, who has been a trade union activist holding various positions in SIPTU and the Limerick Council of Trade Unions for 57 years, is maintaining his protest outside the office.

He believes his attempts to have an investigation into how a ‘rollover’ of sanctioning to release funds to pay 163 workers on Community Employment and other schemes in St Munchin’s was delayed has resulted in him being stonewalled.

“Mr (name withheld), a union official now retired, told me and has put it in writing for me, that he was told by another union official to hold off on giving the go-ahead for the schemes to roll over.

“I am alleging this happened because the union was in dispute with St Munchin’s management about a member. It meant that they had to get a loan to pay wages. They were very close to having to close the doors. That was putting 163 jobs in a community at risk.

“I tried to raise the issue at meetings but I was blocked. Now they won’t let me into the office I worked out of for decades. I’m not even allowed to park my car in the yard.”

The Limerick Post contacted the official who, it is alleged, was told to hold off on giving the Munchin’s schemes the go-ahead and he confirmed what that this is what he had told Mr McDonnell and what he has subsequently put in writing.

But Regional Organiser Eddie Mullins told the Limerick Post that GDPR regulations are preventing the former president from having access to the files.

In a memo from SIPTU’s head office last June staff were informed of the union’s obligations around security and GDPR.

Thhis clearly stated “that no non-member of staff should be allowed on to any Union premises where staff are working, unless they are accompanied by a member of staff at all times.”

Mr Mullins said that Mr McDonnell “has raised the issue at a number of council meetings and was told it was the inappropriate forum for dealing with the issue. He should have been directed to me. I sanctioned the scheme within days of receiving a request to do so.

“I have no knowledge of any official being told to hold off on the rollover. Indeed, I know that when a former official asked a staff member whether they had delayed the rollover, he was informed that there was no basis to the suggestion.

“Had the people involved approached me as the designated person to deal with the rollover issue in the first instance, none of these issues would have arisen.

“There was no intention to pressurise the management at St Munchin’s to resolve the matter of a particular individual, as far as I am aware.”