Saturday 24 August 2019

500 HSE ambulance staff to strike again over union recognition

Peter Hughes: PNA secretary accused HSE of dragging out row
Peter Hughes: PNA secretary accused HSE of dragging out row

Eilish O’Regan

More than 500 HSE ambulance staff are to stage a further 24-hour work stoppage in the middle of this month.

The workers - who have already staged a number of work stoppages in pursuit of union-representation rights - will strike from 7am on July 19 to 7am July 20.

They are members of the National Ambulance Service Representative Association – part of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA).

They will also protest outside the Dáil tomorrow, from 12.30pm to 2.30pm.

READ MORE: Further strikes in ambulance service loom  

A spokesman said tomorrow’s protest rally and the 24-hour strike is yet a further stage in the campaign by PNA ambulance personnel members that has already involved seven days of strike.

Peter Hughes, PNA General Secretary, said ambulance personnel members awere determined that Oireachtas members would hear a very clear message before the Dáil summer recess.

“The message is unchanged – ambulance personnel, who established their own branch within the PNA 10 years ago, demand the right to be members of PNA as the union of their choice and will not be forced by the HSE to join another union that they do not want to be members of.

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HSE chief executive Paul Reid. Photo: Tony Gavin

"While our campaign has been encouraged by the growing level of political support in Leinster House, we are calling on all Oireachtas members to support ambulance personnel in demanding a basic right for workers to join the union of their choice.

"It is a disgrace that ambulance personnel are being forced by the HSE to hold another 24-hour strike in a vital frontline emergency service. This is a situation that these professional and highly-dedicated workers have said they do not want to be in.

“However, they are left with no option in the face of an inexplicable intransigence by the HSE and a refusal to acknowledge the clearly expressed wishes of ambulance personnel to be members of, and represented by PNA – a trade union of over 49 years’ experience in representing workers within the health and social care services.

 “As we move towards another 24-hour strike action in the national ambulance service I am calling on the new HSE Director General, Paul Reid, to bring this dispute to an end finally and allow ambulance personnel members of the PNA to get on with providing their vital services.”   

The HSE said the principle of engaging only with recognised trade unions has been acknowledged previously by the Labour Court in a dispute involving the PNA and a different public-sector employer.

“With this in mind, National Ambulance Service  will stand by the agreements that it has made with recognised unions and will not undermine those agreements by engaging with other associations or unions. This approach is in keeping within Government policy and supports the consolidation that is happening within the wider trade union environment,” it said.

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