Walkout by hospital porters forces emergency talks
EMERGENCY conciliation talks are to be held under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission in a bid to resolve a dispute which has been threatening portering services at the biggest hospital in the west.
The HSE and SIPTU will both attend the talks which are expected to be held over the next couple of days.
The dispute began when up to nine porters at University Hospital in Galway walked off the job following the return to work, on Monday, of a senior employee at the hospital.
The individual had been at the centre of controversy last December following a physical altercation with another member of staff at the hospital.
An internal HSE investigation was carried out and found that, on the balance of probability, the senior staff member was the aggressor in the incident.
Both men were subsequently suspended on full pay. The second man is on sick leave and has yet to return to his duties.
But following the return to work of the senior employee, nine porters walked out because of what they termed "concerns over health and safety". The porters again stayed away from work yesterday but are due to return to normal duties today.
SIPTU organiser Colm Keaveney said that this did not amount to industrial action by his members.
A HSE statement said that a small number of porters had taken part in a walkout from the hospital.
It added that management had taken all necessary actions to ensure that patient services were not affected.
Last night it emerged that the HSE had accepted an invitation from the Labour Relations Commission, at the instigation of SIPTU, to attend talks aimed at resolving the dispute.