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'Frustrated' SIPTU staff at the FAI hit out at lack of engagement from new CEO Jonathan Hill

The union say they have referred a number of issues to the Workplace Relations Commission.

A view of the FAI offices at Abbottstown.
A view of the FAI offices at Abbottstown.
Image: Lorraine O'Sullivan/INPHO

FAI EMPLOYEES REPRESENTED by trade union SIPTU have hit out at a lack of engagement with FAI management over a number of key issues including pay deferrals and external appointments, issues which have now been referred to the Workplace Relations Commission. 

In written correspondence last month, FAI CEO Jonathan Hill told SIPTU, “Specifically there is no agreement in place to formally recognise SIPTU for any form of ‘collective bargaining’ purposes and as such the Association is not obliged to consult or negotiate on any matters with your organisation. Therefore any engagements I have had with you as CEO have been on a goodwill basis in the interest of courtesy and cordial relations.”

SIPTU Sector Organiser Martin O’Rourke says relations between SIPTU staff and FAI management have deteriorated since the appointment of Jonathan Hill as CEO.

“SIPTU has proudly represented workers in the FAI since 2012″, reads a statement by O’Rourke. “During that time, we have raised matters of concern in a reasonable and respectful manner while making progress in a number of key areas. However, since the appointment of a new Chief Executive Officer in November 2020, that constructive relationship has unfortunately deteriorated. Our members believe this sudden change of tact is not good for the development of staff or football in Ireland.

“SIPTU members have consistently worked in innovative ways with the FAI in the past and were to the fore in securing essential funding to keep the organisation afloat during very difficult times in 2019.

“Our members believe that such a statement from the new CEO is extremely disappointing and an insult to loyal staff who only have the interests of the beautiful game at heart.”

One issue relates to money owed from pay deferrals last year, which were implemented prior to Hill’s appointment as CEO. All staff were hit by deferrals last year to mitigate against the financial impact of the pandemic, and while pay has been restored to original levels, it is understood staff are still owed 75% of their deferred income. 

“The reality is SIPTU members have dealt with ongoing pay deferrals, numerous new external appointments across a number of departments and watched as the organisation has been restructured in a less than transparent manner. They are frustrated and say enough is enough. FAI workers want fair play and union representation. 

“These issues have now been referred to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) but it is beyond disappointing that the FAI are incapable of resolving this through open and direct dialogue with the union. SIPTU representatives are calling upon the FAI board and FAI executive leadership to engage with us so we can drive football forward. There is a lot of work to be done.”

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Asked to comment, an FAI spokesperson told The42, “The Football Association of Ireland notes with disappointment the comments made by SIPTU and their disclosure to some media of private correspondence between our CEO Jonathan Hill and their official Martin O’Rourke.

“The FAI confirms that Jonathan is and has been available to all staff at all times, individually and as part of his regular two-way staff communications and open door policy, to discuss any issues of interest or concern to them including pay deferrals and the benchmarking process currently underway.

“Beyond that we have no further comment to make and wish everyone a Happy Easter as we concentrate on getting all grassroots footballers back on the pitch as soon as feasible in the Covid-19 pandemic.”

About the author:

Gavin Cooney

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