Fórsa has confirmed that industrial action by their members at the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority has been stood down.

Fórsa members of the SFPA have stood down from further industrial action

Fórsa has confirmed that industrial action by their members at the Sea-Fisheries Protection Authority has been stood down.

Fórsa members of the SFPA were due to take industrial action starting yesterday, Thursday 10 February as part of a dispute that saw two work stoppages take place at Irish fishing ports in January.

Both Fórsa and the SFPA have agreed to attend the Labour Court for a binding arbitration.

An arbitration process, scheduled to take place in July 2021, was disrupted at the last minute when the SFPA informed the Court that any outcome would need to be approved by the Department of Public expenditure and Reform. Consequently, the Labour Court was unable to assist any further. Throughout the dispute, Fórsa had sought a return to the binding arbitration process.

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The dispute centres around the findings of an independent review of the SFPA carried out by Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC), and attempts by management to implement and impose a series of 47 recommendations without the input of the staff representatives in the agency.

On Wednesday, 02 February, Fórsa issued notice of further industrial action in the form of non-cooperation with a number of specific tasks. These actions include quality management systems, weekly situation reports and weekly written reports, in addition to Brexit–related processes, such as all work related to the Agriculture Field Inspection Testing (AFIT) system. 

Despite claims by SFPA management of its intention to attend a meeting of the non-commercial semi state oversight body on Friday 28 January in a bid to resolve the dispute, it did not attend.

Fórsa official Ian McDonnell was in attendance and, in a letter to SFPA management, he said the meeting concluded that the oversight body was not in a position to resolve the dispute, and that there is currently no other binding arbitrary decision-making forum, apart from the Labour Court.

Ian added: “The ball remains firmly in the SFPA’s court to take the necessary steps and confirm that they will attend the Labour Court under binding arbitration to resolve the outstanding matters definitively. As this is not presently the case we will now be continuing with our industrial action.”

He said the union had been made aware of management pressure brought to bear on some members, during the stoppage periods in January, to deviate from their industrial action. Ian added: “Any such intimidation of members that may occur by management must cease.”

Fórsa has written to the SFPA today confirming that at the Public Service Agreement Group meeting this week that DPER will allow SFPA to attend the Labour Court under binding arbitration, in line with section 20 (2) of the Industrial Relations At, 1969, on the issues in dispute. Effectively returning to the position that was held in June/July last year.

The letter from Ian McDonnell to the SFPA’s HR Director, Yvonne grant states, “We are standing down our industrial action on the above basis and the members are presently being communicated with on same. I have been in contact with Sophie Crosbie of IBEC this morning and we are in agreement that we should jointly seek an early hearing by the Labour Court. It is important that we use this as a starting point to build better relations moving forward.”

by Oliver McBride

Brian J McMullin Solicitors
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Fórsa confirms SFPA members industrial action stood down

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