Tuesday 15 October 2019

Hospital patients face severe disruption on Thursday as 10,000 support staff strike

(stock photo)
(stock photo)

Eilish O’Regan

Patients are facing severe disruption on Thursday as 10,000 HSE support staff look set to strike following a breakdown of talks today.

A 24-hour stoppage is planned in 38 hospitals by the staff, who include porters and chefs.

The talks collapsed today at the Workplace Relations Commission.

The HSE has so far declined to say what contingency plans are in place and how services will be affected.

The strike will involve a range of key grades including healthcare assistants and laboratory staff.

The staff are demanding that the government pay wage hikes that they say are outstanding following a previous job evaluation scheme.

Among the hospitals affected, if the stoppage goes ahead, are Cork University Hospital, James Connolly Hospital in Blanchardstown, Beaumont Hospital, the Mater and St James Hospital.

Siptu said it is time for the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, and the Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, to step in and resolve this dispute.

SIPTU industrial relations executive Paul Bell said the job evaluation scheme at the centre of the current dispute had identified that the skill level for support staff had increased significantly over a nine-year period.

He said both the Department of Health and the HSE had accepted the findings of the job evaluations, entitling members to pay rises of up to €3,000.

However, he described it as "deeply concerning" that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform seemed to think they could pay these monies when they chose, and maybe not until the next national public service agreement in 2021.

Mr Bell warned that SIPTU members would not accept another national agreement like the Public Service Stability Agreement unless the current agreement is honoured in full.

He said members were entitled to their monies, and wanted to see the government move today.

Mr Bell also noted that the Government had had no difficulty honouring a similar job evaluation scheme for officer grades which had been agreed at the same time, in the same process, and in the same building.

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