Sunday 8 December 2019

7,000 health staff vote for one-day strike

Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Frank McGrath
Health Minister Simon Harris. Photo: Frank McGrath
Ryan Nugent

Ryan Nugent

Strike action is planned by close to 7,000 health and social workers for St Valentine's Day because their pay has not been restored in line with the rest of the public sector.

Some 97pc of staff agreed to strike action following a Siptu ballot.

The strike action is a result of a failure to restore funding to Section 39 agencies - whose staff are employed by Department of Health-funded bodies but are not public servants - in line with that of public service agencies.

Siptu health division organiser, Paul Bell, said they are looking for full restoration and are prepared to "escalate" on that one-day strike, with the potential for two successive days the following week.

"The ballot result is an expression of the unprecedented level of both disappointment and anger of our members at the failure of their employers and Government to respect their legitimate entitlement to pay restoration," Mr Bell said.

"Our members are also incensed with the lack of a response by their employers and Government to the unanimous vote earlier this month in Dáil Éireann in support of a Fianna Fáil Private Members' Bill, which called for pay restoration for workers in Section 39 organisations."

Mr Bell added that they will undertake the strike in a way that limits the effects it will have on service users.

The Department of Health, under Minister Simon Harris, said it is working to establish if the pay reductions to Section 39 organisations were of the same extent as those experienced by public sector workers.

"Whilst it is understood that pay cuts were implemented in many Section 39 organisations, it is not clear if these cuts were applied in a universally consistent manner across all Section 39 agencies," it said.

"So while staff may have been subject to cuts, it is not known if the cuts were to the same extent as those applied to public servants. There are significant cost implications to be considered," the department added.

Irish Independent

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