Health strike: Labour Court to hold hearing as WRC talks end without agreement

Union in dispute with Government over pay for support personnel

HSE support workers, members of the SIPTU Trade union from 38 hospitals and healthcare facilities are striking over what they claim is the government’s failure to ‘meaningfully engage’ with pay restoration talks. Video: Bryan O'Brien / David Raleigh

 

Talks aimed at averting three days of scheduled strike action by health service support staff ended without agreement on Thursday night at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

The trade union Siptu, which represents the staff concerned and public service management are to attend a preliminary hearing at the Labour Court without preconditions on Friday morning.

Siptu and public service management held nearly 12 hours of talks at the WRC on Thursday.

Earlier, Siptu said it was not hopeful that a planned three-day strike next week by health service support personnel can be averted.

Arriving at talks at the WRC on Thursday, the union’s health division organiser Paul Bell said it would need to see a change of attitude on the part of Government representatives.

He said that would determine whether progress could be made and would determine whether first work stoppages took place.

About 2,000 patients had planned hospital appointments and procedures cancelled on Wednesday as a result of strike action by health service support staff including healthcare assistants, laboratory aides, porters and catering staff over pay.

Siptu said the dispute centered on the failure of the Government to pay increases due to support staff on foot of a job evaluation scheme.

However, the Government maintained it offered last week to put in place the increases — which the union said ranged from €1,500 to €3,000 — on a phased over the next two years, commencing in December.

Mr Bell said a planned three -day stoppage next week had not been deferred to allow the new talks to take place.

He said as part of any new strike there would be no “blanket derogations” for areas such as emergency departments.

He said the union was talking to management in individual hospitals about local contingency arrangements.

He said he believed the HSE had been satisfied with the contingency arrangements that were put in place for the strike on Wednesday and there had been no reports of major incidents.

Mr Bell said Siptu members were seeking agreements on the job evaluation scheme to be honoured and for payments to commence this year.

“We do hope that the Government will bring a different attitude to this process today.”

“We are here because the Workplace Relations Commission has invited us to attend. We will stay in this process as long as we can make progress.”