Limerick advocacy workers stand down from picket line

NAS staff on the picket line outside their Henry Street offices yesterday.

WORKERS at the Limerick branch of the National Advocacy Service (NAS) took to the picket line this past Wednesday (June 12) outside their offices on Henry Street, joining their colleagues in nationwide demonstrations, in a dispute over pay parity and recognition.

The industrial action, taken by SIPTU members of the NAS, was suspended after less than a day, after an agreement was reached with management to fully implement a Labour Court recommendation concerning pay and conditions.

According to SIPTU, this past Wednesday’s nationwide strikes were “aimed at protecting the vital assistance (protesting workers) provide to disabled citizens”.

It has been confirmed today (Thursday) that the strike action has since been suspended following an agreement to implement a recommendation earlier handed down by the Labour Court.

SIPTU Deputy General Secretary John King, welcoming the agreement by NAS to adhere to the Labour Court recommendation, said that workers had been “willing to remain on strike for as long as it took to secure the acceptance by management of the terms of the Labour Court recommendation on their pay and conditions secured in January”.

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“Thankfully, management have now indicated that it will implement the Labour Court recommendation in full. This has allowed our members to suspend their strike action and enter negotiations with management on its full implementation.”

Speaking to the Limerick Post on the picket line yesterday, Arek Mushinsky, a SIPTU official who joined the picketing on Henry Street, told this newspaper that “workers haven’t had a pay increase since 2010 officially”.

The National Advocacy Service is a free service providing representation for people with disabilities in Ireland. It supports service users in navigating independence and difficulties they may face in their day-to-day life in the community.

The strike action saw pickets placed outside NAS offices nationwide, including in Limerick City, Dublin, Athlone, Waterford, Cork, and Kilkenny.

SIPTU Sector Organiser Brendan Carr said the agreement to hold up to the recommendation by NAS represented a “good day for the workers involved and their clients. Our members had no other option but to commence strike action as they believed that the very future of the National Advocacy Service was at stake. The existing pay and conditions for staff was resulting in an inability to recruit new workers and experienced staff leaving.”

SIPTU representatives will meet with NAS management on June 24 to begin discussions on implementing the Labour Court recommendations, Mr Carr confirmed.

Suzy Byrne, NAS staff member, said the nationwide demonstrations had “shown what workers in the community sector can achieve when they take resolute action with a sense of solidarity and purpose”.

“We are very pleased that we can now get back to our work assisting more than 1,500 disabled people each year with in-person advocacy interventions in areas including housing, access to justice, health care, safeguarding and supporting in decision making.”