Wednesday 21 August 2019

Ambulance services facing strike threat as staff ballot for action

The National Ambulance Service (NAS) (Stock photo)
The National Ambulance Service (NAS) (Stock photo)

Anne-Marie Walsh

Hospitals and ambulance services may be hit by strikes as paramedics and nurses are to ballot for industrial action.

Ambulance services face the threat of industrial action this summer.

More than 600 paramedics will begin voting on Friday in a row over the deduction of subscriptions for new members of a union.

Nurses are threatening a "winter of discontent" following a delay in the publication of a major report on staffing difficulties.

The Public Service Pay Commission was due to issue its findings this month, but now it is not expected until July.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform agreed to finish talks on the findings within four weeks of its publication.

Now, it says its Executive Council will meet in August and may consider balloting for industrial action.

It will ballot members unless the Government engages in "addressing the pay deficiencies".

In the ambulance dispute, staff claim the HSE is refusing to take union subscriptions from the wages of new members of the National Ambulance Service Representative Association (Nasra).

Members of the association unanimously agreed to ballot for industrial action, up to and including strikes, unless the HSE reverses its decision.

They work as paramedics, advanced paramedics and emergency medical technicians.

Nasra was set up seven years ago and is a branch of the Psychiatric Nurses Association.

The union claims that many of its newest members are disillusioned members of Siptu who have jumped ship.


General secretary of the Psychiatric Nurses Association Peter Hughes said members were left with no other option.

"I am calling on the HSE to immediately commence processing union deductions from payroll for new Nasra members, as is the norm across the trade union sector," he said.

National chairperson of Nasra Sinead McGrath said other members of the union working at the HSE had the right to join without obstruction.

A HSE spokesperson said the National Ambulance Service "does not have a comment at this time".

Meanwhile, archaeologists at a consultancy firm are planning industrial action to get a pay rise.

The move comes after it emerged that commercial archaeologists with postgraduate degrees at IAC Archaeology in Wicklow earn just €12.50 an hour - or roughly €25,437 a year.

Unite regional co-ordinating officer Richie Browne said site assistants with nine years' experience and a master's in archaeology were on these rates.

"IAC should be in no doubt that our members are set to dig in for decency," said the chair of Unite's Archaeological Branch Jean O'Dowd.

However, there is good news for workers taking emergency calls as they are set for a 13pc pay hike.

The Labour Court ruled that 55 workers at BT Conduit should get an increase to €12.50 an hour over 12 months.

It also said they should get a night shift allowance.

Irish Independent

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