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Consultants risk pay cut if they miss court talks

CONSULTANTS are willing to risk threats of a salary cut by not turning up for planned talks at the Labour Court.

The Irish Hospital Consultants Association's refusal to take part in talks -- due to take place tomorrow -- over their working practices has prompted a warning from Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Brendan Howlin and the HSE that they must "keep their side of the bargain" under the Croke Park deal.

The IHCA refusal to attend means that the implementation body overseeing the Croke Park agreement can be asked to adjudicate on whether the IHCA's stance leaves it outside the deal.

The Croke Park deal currently protects public sector salaries and prevents pay cuts for existing consultants.

Mr Howlin said they would expect people who are invited to the Labour Court to turn up for a hearing. "And we expect all unions which are signed up to and fully protected by Croke Park to keep their side of the bargain."

The Irish Medical Organisation, which also represents consultants, confirmed that it will attend tomorrow's hearing along with the HSE.

But Donal Duffy of the IHCA said the issues before the Labour Court tomorrow did not fall within the terms of the agreement, so his association was not obliged to attend.