Saturday 17 August 2019

Patients to face three strike days in a row as talks stall

Threat remains: Siptu official Paul Bell warned of work stoppage
Threat remains: Siptu official Paul Bell warned of work stoppage

Eilish O'Regan and Kevin Doyle

Three back-to-back strikes by hospital support staff are still set to go ahead next week as "no meaningful progress" was made at talks.

Discussions between Siptu and Government officials ended last night.

The WRC referred the dispute to the Labour Court, where a hearing is due to take place today "without preconditions".

This is a preliminary hearing to decide if there are grounds for a formal intervention.

A Siptu spokesperson said all issues relating to pay increases due under a job evaluation scheme were discussed but no meaningful progress was made. He said next week's strikes had not been deferred.

Meanwhile, many of the 2,000 hospital patients whose surgery and other procedures were cancelled due to this week's health workers' strike are expected to face significant delays before being rescheduled for care.

It comes as talks resumed between Siptu and health employers at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) yesterday to try to prevent the 10,000 support staff staging another three-day strike next week in pursuit of their claim.

The HSE said most cancellations related to surgery, scopes and day case procedures as well as some outpatient appointments.

Siptu is insisting on payment of salary increases of between €1,500 and €3,000 which it says are due under a job evaluation scheme.

The Government claims it offered to phase in the increases over two years beginning in December.

Asked to comment on the dispute yesterday, Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe said any settlement had to be "inside certain parameters, anything we do has to happen on a phased and affordable basis.

"We do have a commitment to them in the current wage agreement which we will honour.

"But I cannot do anything with them that is going to cause unravelling or difficulty elsewhere in the wage agreement.

Irish Independent

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