Fine Gael TD for Meath East, Regina Doherty, has today offered her outright support for 999 emergency operators and has slammed Conduit/BT for gross misconduct of workplace relations.
Speaking today, following a meeting with a number of emergency call operators yesterday, the Meath East TD said “Over the last number of weeks I received a series of letters from constituents detailing unfair working conditions as emergency operators. I was astonished to hear yesterday that employees, who we rely on under such unfortunate circumstances, have been treated with such little regard and respect.
“The idea that a person, who saves potentially hundreds of lives every day, is not even receiving minimum wage is nonsensical to me. Not only this, but these valuable and highly skilled employees are enduring unfair and punitive suspensions, often without explanation.
“Last year, Conduit/BT ignored an invitation to meet with emergency call operators, and their representatives in the Workplace Relations Commission, with a view to exploring a number of changes in both the work environment and contracts themselves. Employees have since been left with no option but to initiate change in the form of a campaign called #999Respect.”
Continuing, Doherty said “To expect any person to work a 12 hour shift, in an incredibly intense and high pressured profession, with no more than 19 minutes ‘offline’ permitted to use the toilet, eat lunch or recompose after a difficult call, is wrong on so many levels.
“Our emergency operators deserve nothing less than a fair wage in return for their work, but also a fair on-call policy, an end to unexplained disciplinary actions, and a right to collective union representation.
“I am baffled as to why it is acceptable for both BT Ireland and Conduit to make profits in the region of tens of millions last year, and simultaneously grossly under pay and mistreat their staff; the means to do so certainly is not an issue in this instance.”
Concluding, Doherty said “The contract for the provision of this service will go out to tender again; I will be doing everything in my power to ensure that a series of vital conditions are included in any such tender. I have already written to the Department of Communications advising of the situation, and I have written to Conduit/BT, inviting them to meet with me with a view to to safeguarding the many people behind the #999respect campaign.”