Ambulance service staff to take industrial action over union dues

Action, to begin on July 24th, is part of dispute about deduction of union dues at source

Union says the action will  start with non-co-operation with non-core duties but would escalate if there was no resolution.  Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

Union says the action will start with non-co-operation with non-core duties but would escalate if there was no resolution. Photograph: Alan Betson / The Irish Times

 

Ambulance service staff are to take industrial action from later this month in a row with the HSE over its refusal to facilitate the deduction of union subscriptions.

The National Ambulance Service Representative Association (NASRA) said its members had voted by nearly 98 per cent in favour of industrial action.

It said the industrial action would commence on Tuesday July 24th.

It said the action would start with non-co-operation with non-core duties but would escalate if there was no resolution.

Peter Hughes, general secretary of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA), of which NASRA is a union branch, said the decisive outcome of the ballot confirmed the level of anger and frustration by members at having a basic work right to join the union of their choice denied to them.

“The message to the HSE from this outcome could not be clearer.

“Ambulance personnel do not accept the arbitrary move taken earlier this year by the HSE to refuse to deduct union subscriptions at source for the growing numbers of ambulance service personnel (including paramedics, advanced paramedics and emergency medical technicians) who wish to join NASRA, and exercise their fundamental right to organise and join the union of their choice.”

‘No other option’

“NASRA members as union branch members of the PNA had been left with no other option than to take this action and protect their fundamental right of freedom of association.

“The HSE has chosen to refuse to engage with us on the fundamental issue despite many requests to do so. There is still time to avert industrial action and I am calling on the HSE to immediately commence processing union deductions from payroll for new NASRA members as is the norm across the trade union sector.”

Sinead McGrath, NASRA chairwoman said: “Eight years on from its formation NASRA is an organised and effective union which has built its membership nationally and represented scores of members in industrial relations and grievance cases.

“It is time for the HSE to wake up and accept the implications of this ballot outcome which clearly says that NASRA members will not allow themselves to be obstructed from joining their union by having a basic workplace right of payroll deductions of union subscriptions denied to them.”

A spokesman for the NASRA said the HSE had been deducting its subscriptions for the salaries of members under an arrangement that was in place until last November.

It said at that point the HSE unilaterally ceased processing these deductions. He said the HSE has not engaged with NASRA on the issue since then.

The HSE has not yet made any comment on the issue.