SF flexible on workers’ rights?

Apart from the apparent uniting of SF and the DUP to oppose the introduction of flexible working hours for staff at Magherafelt District Council, against the wishes of half the workforce of 42, the other point of interest is the argument against flexi-time by Sinn Féin councillor Oliver Hughes. According to the Press Association report, he argued “If we were to apply it successfully we would have to employ probably six to eight extra staff to accommodate it. I don`t think the council could sustain the cost of that. Then the problem would arise that whenever all these staff members were present there would be nothing for them all to do.” Unfortunately, the Sinn Féin Spokesman on Workers’ Rights, Arthur Morgan, TD, set out a different party policy on the 18th August..From the statement by SF TD Arthur Morgan, on 18th August

“Sinn Fein strongly supports the introduction of statutory rights to flexible working arrangements which can play a key role in enabling workers to balance work with family and other responsibilities and thereby significantly enhance workers’ quality of life. There is growing evidence to show that workers who are able to balance work and family life are less stressed and more productive. Arrangements such as flexi–time, time accounts, compressed working weeks, annualised hours, and working from home can bring huge benefits for workers and employers alike.

“This survey shows that employers must, as a matter of urgency, make changes and adapt working environments to suit the changing needs of the workforce across the state. It will be them who see the benefits of a happier and more productive workforce.

“Sinn Fein believes that improved work/life balance should be a major social objective, with the potential to not only improve the quality of life for individual workers and families, but also strengthen the Irish social fabric for the benefit of all.”

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  • Dec

    Well SF, from that report supports theintroduction of statutory rights to flexible working arrangements and goes on to list flexi-time, amongst other arrangements.

    Whereas Oliver Hughes merely appears to be against the introduction of flexi-time (note: not Flexible Working arrangements) to Magherafelt District Council specifically.

    Having said that it’s refreshing to see someone at Slugger accessing the SF website for actual content and not just trawling through it looking for spelling mistakes or missing apostrophes.

  • CS Parnell

    Shinners are hypocrites? Get outta here.

    After all the party that brought you “not a bullet, not an ounce” is well known for its consistency.

  • Rory

    Flexible working time was yet another con perpetrated on compliant workforces. In London in the 70’s I worked for a hugely successful English international practice of consulting engineers and did well by them and was rewarded effusively -a massive bonus in my first year, 0% loans, 0% mortgages available (can you believe it?), non-contributory very generous pension scheme, private health insurance, boozy two hour lunches and genuine consultation on all issues.

    Then the law was amended whereby professional companies had been restricted from incorporation so that partners were liable for personal taxation on their share of the profits. Prior to this it was in the interst of the partners to restrict their share of profits by spreading the wealth created among benefits for the workforce thus retaining the best and the brightest and a happy, loyal crew.

    As the new law allowing corporation approached the partners firstly announced the formation of a staff association to represent “equally” all human interests in the enterprise (including of course the partners and soon to be directors and shareholders) – a proactive strike against union organisation. I voted against.

    Next they delighted us all by floating this concept of flexible working and everyone was thrilled at the benificence, the far-sightedness. Except me of course. Working hours were 9.30am to 5.30pm – if the tube was late and someone arrived at 9.45 or 10.15 they still left at 5.30 – everyone did. Under the new regime we needed to work later to make up the time. Hardly an improvement. I voted against.

    On the first Monday of the new “flexi-time” regime I deliberately arrived at 10.00am and then at 5.00pm tidied up and prepared to leave. My boss, Bob, who was watching me from the corner of his eye and ostentatiously looking at his watch and frowning responded to my

    “Goodnight, Bob, see you tomorrow”

    with a puzzled,

    “Er, Rory, what time did you get in this morning?”

    “Ten o’clock,Bob”

    “But it’s only 5 o’clock now”.

    “That’s right, Bob, flexi-time, debit and credit. I came in half an hour late so I’m leaving half an hour early to make up for it”.

    “Oh, right”.

    His roar of awareness reached my ears only as the lift doors closed and I laughed all the way to the pub.

  • nmc

    Perhaps they should allow them the same working conditions as Northern Ireland’s politicians. I.e. do six weeks work over the period of three years and get paid anyway.

  • Oliver Hughes: “I don`t think the council could sustain the cost of that.”

    Well Oliver Hughes presumably won’t have to worry about what Magherafelt or any other council can afford when his party sells any sense of representative local democracy down the river through its support the the British Review of Public Administration.

    I wonder how Sinn Féin will explain to the receptionist in Newry that her job has been given to someone in Craigavon, or to the community relations worker in Ballycastle that his job has been axed in favour of someone based in Ballymena. Post-RPA these sacked people will get plenty of flexibility in their daily lives- they’ll have the whole day to do whatever they want, considering they’ll be on the dole.

    Workers’ rights are secondary to the needs of the provisional movement, and always have been- that was the case in the 1970s when they bombed the crap out many places which provided employment, as is still the case today when they believe that local council job losses can be written off in return for SF control of super-councils in the west via the British Government’s colonial repartion of the north.

    Workers rights? Yeah right- the phrase doesn’t appear in the provisional lexicon.

  • Animus

    I work for a organisation similar to the size of Magherafelt DC and we have flexi-time. It’s fantastic. Obviously our department has to be covered and everyone has to be present for core hours but it works very well. In my previous post, we didnt’ have flexi-time but staggered starts. I was always in early, but my manager was always in late so many days I would work over to get something done for her at the last minute. But I didn’t get anything for it except seething resentment.

    Back to the initial point though, why would they need extra staff? Have they considered this meausre at all? Flexi-time can be established with limits and core hours, so there is no need for it to fail. Staff working flexible times are likely to be more productive and stay in the jobs longer. The cost of recruitement and retaining staff should be considered against the cost of implementing flexi-time as well.

  • Garibaldy

    NI politicians in right wing shock.

    Although nice spot Pete. That’s twice slugger has spotted contradictory messages from north and south in the past few weeks. Are the press officers all on holiday?

  • Reader

    El Matador: Post-RPA these sacked people…
    Are you suggesting that the public sector is overmanned? Which would suggest that having lots of councils creates needless jobs. Where’s the dignity in telling people their job is essentially worthless – just a quirk of an over complicated public sector beaurocracy?
    And remember, you’re not just addressing nervous Public sector employees – there are taxpayers and ratepayers here too.

  • Pete Baker


    It’s either more evidence of a partionist approach… or one policy when in opposition (Morgan) and another policy when in power (Hughes)

  • Garibaldy


    I think it’s the latter rather than the former, but you’re right that different circumstances in different states can lead to different policies.

    My code for this is herself61, where’s Rory when you need him?

  • Pete Baker

    “I think it’s the latter rather than the former”

    But still hypocritical.. It’s no surprise that there are separate policies for being in power and being in opposition, but the fact that a political party can espouse one policy in one jurisdiction while applying another in a separate jurisdiction just underlines the fact that they don’t actually operate as an all-Ireland party.

  • Garibaldy

    Well indeed. Total hypocrites, particularly on the claims of socialism. They’ll have the same attitude when they get their coalition in the south. From Fianna Fáil they sprang, and to Fianna Fáil they return.

  • mckelvey

    It was Fianna Fail who sprang from Sinn Fein.

  • Reader

    mckelvey: It was Fianna Fail who sprang from Sinn Fein.
    …taking the voters and the party with them?
    and FF didn’t spring from Provisional Sinn Fein.

  • Garibaldy

    Yes. But PSF was founded with the help of FF.

  • Reader-

    The very fact that plans provide for the number of councils to be slashed means that there can only be seven administrative centres in the north, rather than 26. It is inconceivable that a single mother who works in an existing local council base could travel 50 miles to work each day at the new ‘super-council’ headquarters.

    There is no doubting that 26 councils is too much for such a small place- however, slashing the number to seven will result necessarily in job losses, such as in the hypothetical scenario mentioned in the previous paragraph, and also reduce the effectiveness of councils to deal with localised issues (their very raison d’etre) or provide the level of local respresentation needed to service our communities effectively.

    There is an argument that if the number of councils were slashed to say 15, we could cut the unneccessary duplication of services and enjoy economies of scale without losing the essential stakeholding communites have in terms of council respresentation, and maintaining the sense of local identity which the current council system perpetuates, as well as saving jobs.

    With regard to the issue of flexi-time in Magherafelt, I think it is shameful that the DUP and Sinn Féin joined forces to block the measure which the SDLP was seeking to implement. Talented women are being held back from contributing fully to society by backward working conditions- this flexi-time plan was designed to remedy this, as well as helping those who find themselves in a caring role outside of work. Sinn Féin may pay lip service to equality and women’s rights, but when it comes to putting their words into action, they are sadly lacking. It’s easy to talk the talk on rights, but SF fails to deliver.

    Hopefully the SDLP will continue to force this issue as planned in pursuit of a true equality agenda.

  • Reader

    El Matador-
    I’m with you on flexitime.
    But I’m in favour of economies of scale. I like to think the dividend can be divided between improvements in services and cost savings.
    As for head offices moving – swings and roundabouts.

  • Reader-

    Unfortunately I believe it will be tipped in favour of cost savings, and against improvements in services, hence my support of the compromise solution of 15 councils which will help ensure the best of both worlds. At the minute, the British Government/ Sinn Féin idea is all about losing on the swings, with very little gain on the roundabouts.