Unions reject HSE staff proposals

 

Trade union Siptu has said it may ballot on industrial action over proposals put forward by the HSE to introduce a longer working week for staff or to cut overtime payments in a bid to tackle its potential €500 million financial deficit.

Siptu health division organiser Paul Bell said this afternoon that when the HSE formally tabled its proposals he would consult with union officials and shop stewards representing members in the health sector.

He said he could not at this stage rule out holding a ballot on industrial action as a protective measure in response to the management proposals.

He said Siptu had not received any formal proposals from the HSE. He said some options were raised orally at a meeting with HSE management in recent days.

“We have yet to receive a formal document communicating the HSE’s position which would warrant a formal response.”

The Irish Times reported today that HSE management had put forward four options for dealing with the deficit to unions earlier this week.

The options were: staff working an additional two hours per week, unpaid, for a two or three year period, overtime only being paid at a flat rate without a premium, the ending of payment of time and a sixth for staff working between 6.00pm and 8.00pm and new restrictions on flexitime working.

Mr Bell said today all of proposals were in breach of the Croke Park agreement on public service pay and reforms. “We believe the HSE and the Minister for Health have got themselves into a position where our members are being used as a pawn in a battle between the two (parties). No amount of kite flying in this area will convince me otherwise.”

David Hughes, the deputy general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation also said that the HSE proposals breached the terms of the Croke Park agreement.

He said the secretary general of the Department of Health had previously given an assurance to unions that any such proposals could only be tabled to apply across the wider public service and not solely in the health sector. He said the HSE by bringing forward its proposals had breached this assurance.

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