Monday 22 July 2019

Further strikes are deferred

Margaret Roddy

While some services at the Louth County Hospital were affected when staff staged a 24 hour strike last Wednesday, there was plenty of public support for their action judging by the re-action of passing motorists who beeped their horns in encouragement and by the gifts of biscuits and snacks left at the picket line.

SIPTU members working as care assistants, porters, cleaning and kitchen staff, picketed outside the hospital as part of a nationwide protest on the implementation of a job evaluation scheme.

The dispute centres on what the union says is the failure of the Government to deliver on the outcome of an official review of the work of 6,000 healthcare assistants and other support grades under a job-evaluation scheme established as part of the 2015 Lansdowne Road public service agreement .

SIPTU representatives Jimmy Mackin said that the workers didn't want to be on strike but they had no choice as the goalposts keep being moved.

The union maintains that members have been underpaid for years and they had been told they would get a pay increase in 2021, which means that the Government knows that the money has to be paid.

Strikes in 38 selected hospitals, including the Louth County Hospital, planned for three days this week have been deferred pending the outcome of a full Labour Court hearing set for tomorrow (Wednesday) on the implementation of a job evaluation scheme.

SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser, Paul Bell, said: 'At the request of the Labour Court, SIPTU representatives have agreed to defer strike action scheduled to start today (Tuesday) to allow for a full hearing to take place with no preconditions. The unity and strength of our members on picket lines this week has demonstrated our determination to achieve a just resolution to this dispute. Ultimately, our members will decide on the outcome of any recommendations that emerge from negotiations at the Labour Court, by way of a secret ballot."

He added: "On behalf of our members, SIPTU representatives would also like to thank hospital patients and members of the public for the huge support shown to 10,000 health workers on picket lines this week and throughout this dispute."

The Argus