Vital role: 'We are moving with times but our pay has stayed stagnant'
Colm French's job is key to keeping hospital equipment and medical instruments free of infection before use on patients.
He works as an operative in the central sterilising supplies department in Sligo General Hospital - and believes he is essential.
"The hospital would not work without us," he said.
"We are moving with the times but our pay has stayed stagnant. The results of the job evaluation gave workers in the central sterilising supplies department an 8pc rise in pay.
"The HSE agreed but the Government has refused to pay the money."
He believes Siptu has played by the rules and is forced to take action.
"Fine Gael are letting us down again. I hope people remember that at the next general election," he added.
Natasha Lennon, who is a chef in St Finbarr's Hospital in Cork, said her role and responsibilities have changed significantly over the last two decades.
She said all chefs have qualifications, but their grade is not aligned to any other health service group.
"It's nearly 20 years since there was a specific pay review for our grade," she said. "Is it any wonder hospitals have experienced difficulties hiring chefs?"
She pointed to the importance of food as central to helping a patient recover. But with a starting salary of around €24,000, more and more chefs are opting to work in the private sector.
This is also compounded by a shortage of chefs nationwide, she pointed out.
Anne Sweeney, who is part of the domestic staff in Letterkenny Hospital, also said her job now involves more infection control and paperwork.