Ambulance staff protest ahead of 24-hour strike later this month

Ongoing dispute with HSE centres on trade union representation rights

National Ambulance Service  staff take part in a picket outside an ambulance station on Dublin’s Davitt Road last month. Photograph: Tom Honan

National Ambulance Service staff take part in a picket outside an ambulance station on Dublin’s Davitt Road last month. Photograph: Tom Honan

 

Ambulance staff are holding a protest outside Leinster House on Wednesday as part of their long-running campaign over trade union representation rights.

Members of the National Ambulance Service Representative Association are scheduled to hold a work stoppage for a 24-hour period in the week starting May 27th and another on the week beginning June 3rd as part of an escalation of the current dispute.

The association has staged a series of 10-hour stoppages over recent months.

Nasra is a branch of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) but the union is not recognised by the HSE as a representative body for personnel in its national ambulance service.

PNA general secretary Peter Hughes said on Wednesday that ambulance branch members were again bringing their protest to Leinster House “to ensure that politicians hear the strength of resolve and determination that the members have to secure the basic right to join and be represented by a recognised trade union”.

“That this dispute has been allowed by the HSE to fester and drag on for over a year is a disgrace. This is especially so when the HSE has refused invitations to the Workplace Relations Commission and calls from across the political divide to recognise the wishes of ambulance personnel and end this unnecessary dispute. The unanimous support shown at our PNA Annual Delegate Conference in Wexford in recent weeks was heartening, and confirms that this dispute is not going away until the rights of ambulance personnel are respected and vindicated.”

PNA ambulance branch chairwoman Sinead McGrath said the HSE was “playing a dangerous game in trying to force hundreds of frontline ambulance personnel and paramedics into trade unions that they do not want to be members of”.

The HSE has said ambulance personnel are well-represented through agreed industrial relations processes.

It said its national ambulance service recognised Siptu, Unite and Forsa for staff in the service. It said that in particular Siptu was the recognised trade union for front-line staff,” a spokesman said.

The HSE said “recognition of other associations or unions would undermine the positive engagement that exists and would impair good industrial relations in the National Ambulance Service”.