Saturday 19 October 2019

Over 500 paramedics announce two more strike dates

Peter Hughes, General Secretary of the Psychiatric Nurses Association
Photo: Collins
Peter Hughes, General Secretary of the Psychiatric Nurses Association Photo: Collins

Anne-Marie Walsh

OVER 500 paramedics have announced two more strikes in a long-running row over union representation.

Ambulance staff members of the Psychiatric Nurses Association will mount pickets on Tuesday April 2 and Wednesday April 10 from 7am to 5pm.

They announced they will ramp up the dispute on the eve of a Dáil protest tomorrow.

They have already held four stoppages in January, February and the start of this month.

General Secretary Peter Hughes said ambulance personnel members would bring their protest to the Dáil tomorrow in pursuit of their right to be members of the union of their choice.

“With tomorrow’s Dáil protest  and the further strike days in April, our PNA ambulance members are showing once again that they are determined to secure their right to organise and be represented by PNA,” he said.

He said hundreds of frontline ambulance personnel joined the PNA since its ambulance branch was established in 2010.

Mr Hughes said it represents more members than at least one of the two unions recognised by the HSE for frontline paramedics.

“It is unacceptable that the HSE is continuing to attempt to ignore and frustrate the wishes of these frontline staff to be members of the PNA,” he said.

He accused the HSE of making no effort to resolve the dispute despite a statement by the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, that it should be resolved through consultation.

“I am calling on the HSE to respond to the minister’s request and bring this unnecessary and divisive dispute to an end,” he said.

The HSE has said that recognition of break-away unions has a destabilising effect on good industrial relations.

“It is a well-established principle of public policy that fragmentation of union representation in the public sector is not in the interests either of the public or of workers,” it said.

Meanwhile, retired ESB staff who want a pension increase of over will also protest outside the Dáil tomorrow.

They called on the Minister for Employment and Social Protection Regina Doherty to allow them to access arbitration, which is ruled out by legislation.

The department said that the minister previously met the group and issues related to the scheme is a matter for the ESB board and management.

It said questions relating to access to the State's industrial relations machinery come under the remit of the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

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