Now junior doctors look to industrial action in row over 'living-out' money
Junior doctors taking court action next week to get back a "living-out allowance" of €61.20 per week have warned they will consider industrial action if the matter is not resolved.
Dr Paddy Hillary, chairman of the committee representing junior doctors in the Irish Medical Organisation, said the payment - worth €3,182 a year - was "unilaterally removed" in 2012 to all new entrants.
Existing doctors held on to the allowance - but full restoration would cost about €15m a year. The allowance was meant as a support to help with the accommodation costs of junior doctors, who move from hospital to hospital every six months for training.
Dr Hillary said it had remained in the signed contract between the employer and junior doctor.
Despite the warning of possible industrial action, the doctors' union has given no timetable for any possible ballot. The indications are that the chance of disruption by this group, who tend to be conservative because of the need not to interrupt their training, remains a somewhat distant threat at this stage.
Dr Hillary said that "it appears this Government do not want to deal fairly with doctors. Our members' core duty is to their patients and while we have endeavoured to explore all avenues to have this resolved, we will now have to consider industrial action up to and including strike action.
"As late as last week we wrote to the Minister for Health to enter talks to resolve the matter, but we have received no response.
"Doctors are demoralised with their working environments.
"It seems that this Government is happy to preside over the growing emigration of our highly trained doctors to countries that value them and honour legally binding contracts."
The IMO sought the restoration of the allowance from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, following a deal reached last May with firefighters, which restored rent allowances worth €4,500.
The doctors have stepped up the fight in the wake of a successful bid by teachers in the INTO and TUI, who have got back their honours primary degree allowance, worth €4,918.
Gardaí were also promised their rent allowance of €4,017, leaving the junior doctors with a sense of grievance, given they must change jobs so often.