SIPTU trade union has hit out at the Galway City Council for its perceived failure to provide a safe working environment after an incident at Carrowbrowne compost site on the Headford Road this week where staff were subjected to harassment and threats.
However a city council spokesperson has refuted these allegations, stating that the local authority has taken appropriate steps to ensure the safety of the staff at the compost site by redeploying them to other areas until the matter has been resolved and by reporting the matter to the Gardai.
It is believed that on Monday the compost site staff were threatened by people who may be living nearby. According to local Siptu organiser Michael Kilcoyne the wire fencing surrounding the compost site was cut and knocked over, and horses were placed in the area and let roam illegally on the site.
“The threats is what I am most concerned about,” said Mr Kilcoyne, who added “the council are legally obliged to provide a safe place for staff to work but they are failing to do that because they are allowing these people to carry on as they like.
“The staff cannot work in conditions where they are being threatened. This has been an on-going problem and it’s up to the council to provide a safe place of work, to fulfil their obligations under the law, and to ensure the people responsible do not get away with it. The council can put an injunction against these people but they are just dragging their feet,” said Mr Kilcoyne, who did acknowledge that work has stopped at the site and staff were redeployed.
According to the city council spokesperson the matter is being investigated and the Gardai were notified. He added: “We [the council] of course always try to ensure that staff are working in a safe environment. When the incident happened on Monday the staff were removed from the area. We are attempting to resolve the issue so our staff can return to work at the composting centre.”