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City councillor: protect workers from heat

Wednesday, 4th July, 2018 4:44pm

Concerns have been raised over conditions for employees working long shifts during the heatwave.

The comments came after Solidarity Councillor Fiona Ryan said she was aware of two different cafés in Cork city where staff had not had breaks or proper air conditioning while working long shifts.

“Because town is so busy, staff are being asked to work ten hours shifts, some with no breaks and in sweltering heat with no air conditioning,” she said.

“Another cafe staff member described temperatures inside reaching 43 degrees but they were only given the minimum break time legally required, despite them being understaffed and the workload pressure only increasing.”

Cllr Ryan called on businesses in the city to be mindful of staff working in high temperatures and ensure they are allowed extra breaks where possible, as well as having access to proper air-conditioning.

“Staff working in kitchens, restaurants, cafes and outside are especially vulnerable. We are not used to consistent heat at this level. It’s not enough to give a 15 minute break and then back to work, if the working conditions have gotten intolerable.”

Cork Business Association Chief Executive Lawrence Owens said the vast majority of businesses were conscious of the effects of the hot weather on employees. He said: “This is weather we are completely unaccustomed to, and some employers are giving extra breaks, or water, things like that.

“It’s up to the individual employer as they see fit, but I think it’s important that businesses recognise the extreme conditions that we have and take what we would call reasonable actions so that people are comfortable, not only employees but customers coming into the business.”

Chief Executive of the Vintners Federation of Ireland Padraig Cribben said he was satisfied that sufficient laws in place to protect workers were being followed. He said: “There is legislation in place in relation to the amount of breaks people should get, and I am happy that all good employers are adhering to those, and many employers are giving breaks to workers above and beyond that.”

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