Monday, June 17, 2019

Strike action involving up to 10,000 health workers is set to go ahead on Thursday after talks ended without agreement at the Workplace Relations Commision (WRC).

SIPTU, the union representing the workers, said disruption to hospital services is inevitable.

Up to 38 hospitals will be affected by the 24-hour work stoppage, the result of a dispute arising from failure to implement pay increases recommended in a job evaluation scheme (JES).

The action will involve portering, household and catering services as well as health care assistants, maternity care assistants, laboratory aids, chefs and surgical instrument technicians.

Paul Bell, SIPTU health division organiser, said the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform had done nothing to try to avert the dispute.

“They came in [to the WRC] and offered nothing,” he said. “We are not accepting that. We played by the rules of the Public Service Stability Agreement.”

The HSE has not yet provided any details of contingency plans. During a series of nurses’ strikes earlier this year, up to 80,000 patient appointments were cancelled.

Mr Bell said the government had agreed to the JES when the workers had signed up to the Lansdowne Road Agreement in 2015 and the review had found their duties extended beyond their original job descriptions. SIPTU says the workers are owed between €1,600-€3,200. The overall cost is c€20m.

Mr Bell said they would be meeting with strike committees tomorrow to discuss contingency plans. He said they would try to insulate more vulnerable patients from the effects of the strike.

He added that no further talks are planned. He warned that SIPTU members would not accept another national pay agreement unless the current agreement is honoured in full.

In addition to Thursday, five further strike days are planned – on June 25 and 26, and July 2, 3 and 4.

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