Labour Court backs pay rise for 6,400 health support workers

Court signals ‘significant’ increases ranging from 6 to 13% and further 1¾% rise, says Siptu

The court’s recommendations follow nine days of hearings on an impasse that affects almost 10,000 support staff including healthcare assistants, laboratory aides, technicians and porters. File photograph: Getty

The court’s recommendations follow nine days of hearings on an impasse that affects almost 10,000 support staff including healthcare assistants, laboratory aides, technicians and porters. File photograph: Getty

 

Thousands of health support staff should be given pay increases from next month, the Labour Court has recommended in a move that could prevent further industrial action in hospitals.

In its recommendation, published on Tuesday evening, the arbitration body said some 6,400 workers who went through a job evaluation process last year should have increases introduced in September.

Responding to the move, Siptu said the court has backed “significant” increases ranging from 6 to 13 per cent, in addition to a separate 1.75 per cent rise also due next month under the Public Service Stability Agreement.

The recommendations follow nine days of Labour Court hearings on an impasse that affects almost 10,000 support staff including healthcare assistants, laboratory aides, technicians and porters.

Another phase of increases, according to the recommendations, should be implemented in September of next year.

“The Labour Court also recommends a pathway for members who have yet to have their jobs evaluated with specific cut off days for completion and under the existing formula,” said Paul Bell, Siptu’s health division organiser.

That relates to a final phase of the job evaluation scheme which the Labour Court has said should get under way “as soon as possible” but not later than three months after an acceptance of its recommendations.

That will only happen if they are acceptable to workers who will begin voting on the matter next week.

“Union representatives will continue to assess the detail of the recommendations,” said Mr Bell. “The final decision is in the hands of our membership, who will be balloted on the terms of the recommendation.”

The Health Service Executive said it noted the recommendations and would now await the outcome of the ballot.

However, if acceptable, the move will spell a welcome cessation in hostilities that have already led to some limited strike action in hospitals.

What is the union’s argument?

Siptu argued that the Government had failed to pay increases recommended by the job-evaluation scheme which examined whether any of the roles of the staff had changed and expanded in recent years. Both sides differed on when such increases should be introduced.

Last month workers warned that a one-day strike would be followed by three days of action, a scenario that hastened efforts to find a solution.

Siptu, meanwhile, said a separate Labour Court recommendation regarding chefs has taken them “a significant step closer to securing pay justice”.

The court, it said, had recommended that a 12-week “proactive process” on their situation be carried out under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission.

A spokeswoman for Minister for Health Simon Harris said he had noted the court’s two separate recommendations.

“Obviously they will both will need be examined in detail by the parties. Given that Siptu will need to ballot their members, it would not be appropriate to comment further at this time,” she said.