Monday 14 October 2019

Two 24-hour ambulance strikes on the way

Previously, the 500 paramedics held shorter stoppages during working hours. Picture credit: Damien Eagers / INM
Previously, the 500 paramedics held shorter stoppages during working hours. Picture credit: Damien Eagers / INM

Anne-Marie Walsh and Eilish O’Regan

AMBULANCE services face disruption during two 24 hour strikes this month and next due to a long-running paramedics dispute.

Members of the National Ambulance Service Representative Association (Nasra) are escalating a long-running campaign of industrial action by holding full-day stoppages.

They are planning a 24-hour strike at the end of this month and another at the start of June, but have not set dates yet.

Previously, the 500 paramedics held shorter stoppages during working hours.

Army ambulance crews helped shore up services during six previous 12-hour strikes in the row over union recognition.

The members of Nasra, which is a branch of the Psychiatric Nurses Association, want the HSE to recognise their union.

They claim the HSE is forcing them to be members of unions they do not want to join. The HSE recognises Siptu as the main union for paramedics.

Health Minister Simon Harris said it is regrettable that the NASRA branch of the Psychiatric Nurses Association has taken this decision to escalate their dispute.

“The HSE will continue to ensure patient safety through robust contingency planning,” he said.

A HSE spokesperson said the national ambulance service recognises SIPTU, UNITE and Fórsa for staff in the service.

“In particular SIPTU is the recognised trade union for front-line staff,” they said.

“Recognition of other associations or unions would undermine the positive engagement that exists and would impair good industrial relations in the national ambulance service.”

Meanwhile, psychiatric nurse members of the Psychiatric Nurses Association are due to meet HSE officials next Tuesday in a bid to end a separate row over pay.

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