St James’s Hospital staff back strike in parking charge row

Siptu says decision due in coming days on date and duration of strike action

Entrance to St James’s Hospital, Dublin. File photograph: Google Street View

Entrance to St James’s Hospital, Dublin. File photograph: Google Street View

 

Staff at St James’s Hospital in Dublin who are members of Siptu have voted overwhelming in favour of industrial action over plans by management to introduce charges for car parking.

The union said a decision will be made in coming days concerning the date and duration of the strike action, which followed proposals put forward by management to levy charges of up to €500 annually.

Siptu said in the intervening period its representatives would be available for meaningful discussions with management “which are aimed at satisfactorily addressing members’ concerns”.

The Irish Times reported last month that management told staff the plan to introduce car parking charges was linked to the construction of the new National Children’s Hospital on the St James’s campus.

Significant reduction

It said the development would result in a significant reduction in staff parking capacity.

Management said a €500 charge would be levied in 2016 for parking on the St James’s Hospital site as well as in a nearby location known as St James’s Steel.

It said an annual charge of €350 would be introduced for staff parking at the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham, but that access to staff parking in the evening and weekends would remain free.

Siptu health divisional organiser, Paul Bell, said: “Siptu members, across all departments and grades in the hospital, have shown full support and solidarity for our campaign to oppose this unjust charge.

“In a ballot counted on Thursday, 93 per cent of those who participated voted to take strike action.

‘Totally unacceptable’

“The attempt by management to unilaterally impose such an excessive car parking charge on workers at the beginning of 2016 is totally unacceptable. Most of these workers have no other option but to drive by car to their place of work.”

Siptu organiser David Field said workers throughout St James’s Hospital were “outraged when senior management attempted to introduce a punitive €500 charge for car parking without consultation with their union”.

“By standing together to oppose this attempt to impose such an excessive charge, workers across all grades have shown management they must engage constructively with them and show them the respect they deserve.”