HSE in threat to dock pay as action escalates
THE HSE has threatened to dock public servants' wages if they continue to severely disrupt patient care through industrial action.
National director of human resources Sean McGrath warned that a partial or complete suspension of pay is among the options open to the employer as it was being "slowly strangled" by industrial action over budget pay cuts.
The warning came a day after a letter was sent to staff urging them to resume their normal duties "with immediate effect" or "all appropriate actions will be considered" to protect patients.
HSE chief Professor Brendan Drumm has warned that disciplinary action and suspensions would result if patient care was compromised.
But Mr McGrath raised the prospect of partial pay cuts if the industrial action further damages patient care. He did not elaborate on the circumstances where this might occur.
"We have a number of options open to us -- it's not a particular place we want to go -- obviously by reassignment, reappointment, redeployment to other areas, partial deductions in pay, suspensions from pay," he said. However, he admitted that the HSE would increase the risk to patients if it takes "a very, very hard approach on this".
He said it was his personal view the Government "was not for turning" on the pay cut.
"At the end of the day, our overriding objective in the health service is to provide services for the taxpayer and the patient, and by and large that is the most important thing.
"We will not put them at risk in industrial action and we will take whatever action is required to ensure that does not happen." Mr McGrath said the letter was sent because of an escalation in the campaign this week, mainly by IMPACT. He said talks were urgently needed.
"Whatever opportunity there is for talks, I believe it has to happen now," he added. He said it was becoming very difficult for the HSE to reduce waiting times and increase day-care procedures because the action was "slowly strangling" the health service.
IMPACT national secretary Kevin Callinan said the tone of management communications was patronising. He said the correspondence failed to grasp that public servants would never accept "what was done to them last December" in the Budget.