Ambulance staff warn of further action after fifth strike of year

Dispute between Nasra and HSE centres over union representation rights

Ambulance service staff who have engaged in a series of strikes in recent weeks over union representation rights have said they are prepared to escalate their action. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

Ambulance service staff who have engaged in a series of strikes in recent weeks over union representation rights have said they are prepared to escalate their action. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill/The Irish Times.

 

Ambulance service staff who have engaged in a series of strikes in recent weeks over union representation rights have said they are prepared to escalate their action.

Members of the National Ambulance Service Representative Association (Nasra) staged a work stoppage on Tuesday from 7am to 5pm as part of the campaign.

It was their fifth day of strike action this year and another is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, April 10th. Nasra, a branch of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA), says it has about 500 members in the HSE’s National Ambulance Service.

The union’s general secretary Peter Hughes said that following the stoppage next week, the union would review its strategy, and plan how to escalate the industrial action.

The staff concerned - including various grades of ambulance personnel such as paramedics, advanced paramedics and emergency medical technicians - are in dispute with HSE management over trade union representation rights and the deduction of union subscriptions at source from their pay.

Mr Hughes said that by going on strike the staff were sending a clear message to the HSE that they were “not prepared to have the fundamental right to join and be represented by the union of their choice denied to them” .

However, the HSE does not recognise the PNA or its Nasra branch as a representative body for ambulance personnel. It recognises Siptu, Unite and Forsa in this area.

The HSE said that despite challenges being experienced as a result of the action on Tuesday, it was managing the situtation.

On Tuesday morning the National Ambulance Service had received 240 calls and the HSE said three of these were responded to by military ambulances which had been deployed to assist during the work stoppage.

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