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Lab scientists involved in Covid-19 testing overwhelmingly reject proposed pay deal

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MLSA chairperson Kevin O’Boyle said the proposed deal does not address longstanding recruitment and retention issues which need to be addressed urgently.

MLSA chairperson Kevin O’Boyle said the proposed deal does not address longstanding recruitment and retention issues which need to be addressed urgently.

MLSA chairperson Kevin O’Boyle said the proposed deal does not address longstanding recruitment and retention issues which need to be addressed urgently.

Laboratory scientists who carry out Covid-19 testing have overwhelmingly rejected the proposed public sector pay deal Building Momentum.

Medical scientists carry out critical testing of patient samples, including for the coronavirus in public hospitals.

A total of 96pc of members of the Medical Laboratory Scientists Association (MLSA) who have been involved in a long-running dispute for higher wages voted against the proposed agreement.

Some 71pc of members voted in the ballot after the union’s national executive committee unanimously recommended rejection.

The proposed deal includes pay increases of up to 3pc over the next two years.

MLSA general secretary Terry Casey said the union is scheduled to meet employers in the Workplace Relations Commission before the collective ballot of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions is announced on February 23.

The union said its response including “its position on industrial action”, would be informed by the discussions at this meeting.

MLSA chairperson Kevin O’Boyle welcomed the strong endorsement by members of the executive committee position.

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He said it sent a strong and clear message that the proposed deal does not address longstanding recruitment and retention issues in the laboratory sector and that these must be addressed urgently.

Mr Casey said a medical scientists’ dispute dates back to 2002 and involves a claim for pay parity with staff in biochemistry laboratories.

He said medical scientists carry out identical work, with the same responsibilities, and yet are paid on average 8pc less.

“Public sector health workers from nurses, consultants to lab aides have secured significant pay increases in recent years,” he said.

“For medical scientists this, combined with the advancing role of laboratory diagnostics, increased responsibility, increased workloads and the longstanding challenges in recruitment and retention, mean these employment issues need to be addressed with the HSE, Health Department and Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.”

He said there is a national shortage of medical scientists across the public health service, with up to 130 posts unfilled. Mr Casey said this was because of inferior pay and conditions, poor career structure and limited promotional opportunities.

The ballot result comes after the Association of Secondary Teachers in Ireland rejected the proposed deal earlier this week. However, members of the country’s largest union Siptu backed the agreement yesterday.

Meanwhile, members of the Association of Higher Civil and Public Servants have voted by 93pc to accept the agreement.

A total of 56pc of the association’s 3,000 members voted in the ballot on the executive committee’s recommendation to accept the deal.


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