Ambulance crew members are threatening to go on strike later this month in a dispute over union membership.
The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) said its ambulance personnel members - including paramedics, advanced paramedics and emergency medical technicians - will hold a one-day national strike on Wednesday, December 19th, in pursuit of their right to be represented by the trade union of their choice.
The announcement represents an escalation of industrial action which has been ongoing since October on the issue. The PNA says the Health Service Executive is refusing to engage in negotiations with the union when representing its ambulance branch, or to make payroll deductions of union subscriptions for them.
The PNA represents about 500 staff who joined the National Ambulance Service Representative Association in 2010. Another 1,300 workers in the ambulance service, mostly represented by Siptu, are not in involved in the dispute.
PNA general secretary Peter Hughes said the strike was a serious escalation in a dispute which was entirely of the HSE's making and which the union had repeatedly asked the HSE to resolve.
“Ambulance personnel who are merely seeking a fundamental right to be members of the union of their choice now have no option but to move to strike action in pursuit of that right.
“It is an indication of the strength of feeling among ambulance personnel that they are now embarking on strike action to secure union membership and negotiating rights which are already enjoyed by every other worker within the HSE.”
Sinead McGrath, tnational chairperson of the PNA branch (NASRA) said it was “outrageous” for the HSE to continue to attempt to force ambulance personnel members of PNA into joining another union that they have made clear they do not want to be members of.
The strike will start at 7am Wednesday, December 19th and run until 5pm that day.