IMO rejects LRC meeting as doctors’ strike set to go ahead
“No value” in accepting an invitation to resume negotiations at the Labour Relations Commission
Last month, a ballot for industrial action produced a 97 per cent vote in favour among the 56 per cent of junior doctors who cast votes.
A strike of most hospital doctors is set to go ahead next Tuesday following a decision by the Irish Medical Organisation to refuse further talks on the dispute.
The IMO said it could see “no value” in accepting an invitation to resume negotiations at the Labour Relations Commission because claims made by the HSE about the doctors’ stance were “blatantly untrue”.
“The strike is on,” said the IMO’s director of industrial relations, Steve Tweed. “There has been a complete breakdown in trust and on that basis we cannot sit across the table from the HSE.”
The HSE expressed disappointment and called on the IMO to put its proposals to a ballot of all non-consultant hospital doctor members. Last month, a ballot for industrial action produced a 97 per cent vote in favour among the 56 per cent of junior doctors who cast votes.
It claimed next week’s strike was completely avoidable and should be immediately deferred to allow a ballot to take place, “given the serious patient care and ethical implications of proceeding with strike action in these circumstances”.
The HSE had dealt “in a comprehensive manner” with all the issues raised by the IMO in relation to achieving a maximum 24-hour shift in hospitals by the end of next month and a had plan for full compliance with the European working time directive by the end of next year, it said.
“Despite the complex and challenging matters at issue, significant progress has been achieved during the engagement since September 3rd. The IMO has acknowledged this progress at the LRC and in writing to the HSE.”
At issue is the question of what sanctions would apply in cases where hospitals failed to limit shifts to a maximum of 24 hours as provided for under the draft agreement. The HSE says hospitals should be financially sanctioned in cases of non-compliance but it claims the IMO wants doctors to receive additional payment, at a rate of 2½ times standard rates, for hours worked over 24 hours.
However, Mr Tweed said the sanction proposed by the IMO was payment at 1¼ hours and time off in lieu for doctors who were forced to work over the 24-hour limit. Where this time was not used within three months, it would be paid at the standard pay rate.
The strike is likely to cause significant disruption in hospitals. However, emergency, oncology and dialysis services will not be affected.