Friday 23 June 2017

Staff at ambulance control centre overwhelmingly vote for industrial action

Stock photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Stock photo: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Allison Bray

Allison Bray

Around 60 staff at the National Ambulance Service’s emergency control centre in Dublin have overwhelmingly voted in favour of industrial action – including a possible strike.

A ballot conducted by members of the SIPTU trade union over the past week resulted in 98pc of members voting for industrial action and 82pc in favour of strike action in the coming weeks, SIPTU organiser John McCamley told Independent.ie.

At issue is what the union claims is the failure of the Health Service Executive (HSE) to implement an agreement reached at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) before Christmas concerning staffing levels, the filling of vacant posts and retention of staff.

Despite the agreement, staff at the ambulance service’s control centre in Tallaght, south county Dublin, are constantly being asked to work overtime or to forego annual leave due to a high staff turnover rate and short staffing issues, he said.

“Over the last year, SIPTU members have repeatedly highlighted the crisis regarding the retention of emergency call takers within the service,” he said.

“These highly trained and skilled staff who are responsible for taking emergency calls from the public and classifying their level of urgency have a starting rate of pay of just over €21,500 per year. This level of pay coupled with the stressful nature of the job has led to a high turnover of staff,” Mr McCamley said.

“SIPTU members are calling on management to fulfil its obligations under the WRC proposals. If these staffing issues are not addressed as a matter of urgency there is a serious risk to the effective operation of the emergency control centre,” he added.

Officials from the HSE have yet to respond to a request for comment.

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