HSE will not alter terms of €400m pay-off
THE Health Service Executive (HSE) yesterday ruled out any changes to its voluntary redundancy and early retirement packages, as more than 7,000 staff expressed interest in the schemes.
Unions who met HSE officials at the Labour Relations Commission for three hours attempted to secure an extension of the November 19 deadline for staff to apply for the schemes.
The HSE is offering the €400m package to up to 5,000 adminsitrative and clerical staff as well as some support workers, such as porters and catering staff, in a bid to cut €200m a year from its wages bill.
However, unions left the talks disappointed after the HSE refused to refer issues to the Labour Court or agree to any relaxation of deadlines or improvement in terms.
Question marks remain about how the HSE will deliver services from January after the departure of so many staff, particularly if there are shortages in certain areas.
Unions were anxious to stress yesterday that expressions of interest in the redundancy package may not materialise into applications and they said staff were being rushed into making decisions.
Brian Kirwan, head of HSE's corporate relations, said it was not allowed to change any of the terms which were handed down by Government.
The two sides will meet again tomorrow and there will be a further hearing at the Labour Relations Commission on Monday to examine how the HSE plans to maintain services from January after the loss of up to 5,000 staff.
IMPACT national secretary Louise O'Donnell said the HSE had not spelled out how it was going to deal with the service implications for the public and staff left behind. "It should be possible to agree priority areas if management accept that large scale redundancies will mean some services can no longer be provided in the same way.
"The union insisted that the Croke Park agreement would be fully utilised and not short-circuited or circumvented. We want arbitrators appointed before December 1."
SIPTU 's Paul Bell said the only productive element of the talks was the concession by the HSE that the vacant jobs would not be outsourced.