Unions representing staff say industrial action is likely to include work stoppages
Staff at the country's only youth detention centre have backed industrial action over safety concerns.
Residential care workers and night supervising staff at the Oberstown facility in Lusk, Co Dublin, voted for the action by a margin of 95%.
Their unions, IMPACT and SIPTU, have said staff and residents at the centre are exposed to daily risk of violent assault.
There were over 100 violent incidents in Oberstown last year, almost half of which were classed as “critical”, according to the unions.
Management at the facility said they are disappointed with the outcome of the ballot and have made efforts to deal with health and safety concerns among staff.
The campus currently caters for 48 under-18s, including a mix of vulnerable young offenders and people with multiple convictions for serious offences.
The unions said industrial action is likely to include work stoppages, during which emergency cover will be provided.
Tom Hoare of IMPACT said: “A series of policy decisions has left Oberstown care workers doing the work of prison staff with the facilities and equipment of a residential care home.
“The campus is badly designed and understaffed, with inadequate safety equipment and procedures to deal with a mix of vulnerable young people and violent offenders.
“The result is a daily risk of serious assault, which leaves many of the staff literally in fear of their lives as they leave for work each day.”
The staff concerned work at three schools on the campus: Oberstown Boys School, Oberstown Girls School and Trinity House.
Responsibility for the centre was transferred from the Department of Justice to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs in 2012.