Consultants may strike over two-tier pay system, IMO warns

Doctors claim pay differential could rise to €50,000 per year for those hired after 2012

IMO president Dr Peadar Gilligan said the level of anger among doctors about this issue made a strike more likely. Photograph: Shane O’Neill

The Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) has warned that hospital consultants could strike if the Government does not address the two-tier pay system in public hospitals.

The union said under current arrangements consultants appointed since 2012 could earn up to €50,000 less than more longer-serving colleagues.

The IMO urged the Government to start talks to end the pay disparity between those appointed before and after 2012.

The IMO said it was conducting a national survey amongst consultants “to ascertain the level of industrial action which may be undertaken in the event that Government do not engage constructively”.


IMO president Dr Peadar Gilligan said "doctors in general have not traditionally tended to engage in industrial action to resolve matters however the frustration and anger at this issue which has been long running makes that prospect all the more likely".

"All recent efforts by the IMO to address the matter on behalf of recently- appointed consultants have been rejected by Government and now an independent report - the Public Service Pay Commission -- commissioned by the same Government, supports our position. It is time for the Government to act."

“Engage with the IMO to resolve this issue of fairness which is impacting on patient care or face the consequences of the ongoing failure to right this wrong. “

The IMO said consultants working beside each other and doing the same job with the same level of responsibility and qualifications were being paid significantly poorer rates of pay for the same work.

It said the pay difference would rise to €50,000 in the coming months on foot of an agreement reached during the summer with the Government to resolve legal action by consultants appointed before 2012 over a failure by the Government to meet contractual pay terms.

The IMO said the HSE was struggling to fill consultant posts and this would continue to be the case until the two-tier pay system was ended.

It said there were now almost 500 unfilled consultant posts around the country and that this was “ directly impacting on patient care as manifested by the growing waiting lists for hospital care “. It said there were now over 700,000 people on waiting lists.

Dr Gilligan said the IMO welcomed the finding of the Public Service Pay Commission last week which stated: “The reductions in pay which were applied to consultants appointed since 2012 were particularly severe and that the differential in pay between the pre-existing cadre of consultants and these new entrants is greater than for other categories of public servants.”

He said the Pay Commission recommended that the Government and those trade unions which signed up to the current public service pay agreement should jointly consider what measures could be taken to address this.

Martin Wall

Martin Wall

Martin Wall is the former Washington Correspondent of The Irish Times. He was previously industry correspondent