Saturday 23 September 2017

Strike threat at more than 40 hospitals after nurses' holiday deal

Paul Bell, health division organiser at Siptu, says more hospitals will follow Photo: Tom Burke
Paul Bell, health division organiser at Siptu, says more hospitals will follow Photo: Tom Burke

Anne-Marie Walsh

More than 40 hospitals face the prospect of strikes by support staff after they accused their employer of giving nurses extra holidays and training courses.

Siptu said the HSE awarded nurses two extra days of annual leave over two years, and funded training, in a deal the support staff were not part of in 2015.

More than 31,000 workers, including porters, home helpers, cleaners and healthcare assistants, are also demanding that they are given the same right as clerical officers to job evaluations that could entitle them to move up a grade. As a result, their pay would rise.

The union is also in dispute with the HSE over the treatment of interns, which it claims are being rigidly put on point one of their salary scales - while individuals that were recruited recently sometimes start at the top of the scale.

Siptu has released a list of 40 hospitals where staff will be balloted from January 23 and warned that more may be affected.

Staff at hospitals including the Mater, St James's, St Vincent's, Connolly Hospital, Tallaght Hospital, Beaumont Hospital, Our Lady's Children's Hospital, the Coombe, Central Mental Hospital, Our Lady's Hospice and the Central Remedial Hospital in Dublin will be balloted. Voting will also take place at Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda, Cavan General Hospital, Mullingar General Hospital and Cork University Hospital.

Siptu health division organiser Paul Bell said the hospitals were selected due to his members' belief that the issues in dispute were particularly "acute" there. "It is expected that additional hospitals will be added to this initial list of facilities to be balloted," he said.

He said the HSE and Department of Health's decision to give concessions to nurses working in emergency departments that had not been extended to other workers was a central issue for Siptu members.

"In the result of strike action, our members will do everything in their power to ensure that the disruption for the public is minimised," he said.

The ballot result will be announced on February 13.

Irish Independent

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