A Croke Park deal or no deal?

 

Sir, – It has been implied in media reportage of the public sector Croke Park II negotiations that all public sector workers are in pensionable, long- term and guaranteed jobs.

This could not be further from the truth. I am 33 years old and I have worked in the public sector for 13 years.

As of writing I am still not in permanent employment (and therefore do not enjoy the access to full allowances or full pensionable rights) although I have a primary degree, a dedicated diploma, an MA and PhD. Mine is not an isolated case within the public sector, as I have found out.

While recognising the dire financial situation of the country and also being cognisant of the necessary recommendations of the Croke Park II proposals, I feel there are many different perspectives within the public sector.

Amid the bureaucracy and number-crunching of the public service there are many people who struggle just above the EU poverty line. It is not as simple as some media outlets report and people should be aware of the sacrifices many in the public sector make while not enjoying the benefits and privileges of some colleagues. – Yours, etc,

GERRY SUTTON,

Killakee View,

Firhouse, Dublin 24.

If public sector workers are given protection because they are in negative equity, how then do we ensure that private sector workers are?   – Is mise,

ALEX STAVELEY,

Beverton Wood,

Donabate, Co Dublin.

Last month saw widespread public debate on the unsafe and illegal hours non-consultant hospital doctors are forced to work in Ireland and the impact this has on patient safety.

It is universally accepted that the system under which Irish doctors work does not best guarantee the health of patients or staff, and is contributing to the loss of medical expertise from the country. A campaign is ongoing to limit the maximum shift length workable by doctors and to reduce the length of the working week.

In campaigning for a shorter working week, we are not only seeking an improvement in patient care and in our own working conditions: we are also indirectly seeking a paycut through this reduction in our hours. Instead, we learn that the working week is to be lengthened further and pay reduced again. It is rare enough that a group of workers campaign for a reduction in their pay; it must be rarer still that public officials have chosen to rebuff that suggestion and yet have made things exponentially worse for doctors and patients alike. – Yours, etc,

IRWIN GILL,

Mount Anville Wood,

Kilmacud, Dublin 14.

Sir, – As a nurse working with the HSE, I have to voice my concern that the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation opted out of the public service agreement talks.

I fully acknowledge we in the healthcare profession are being pushed up to and at times, beyond our limits to perform our roles in caring for the public when at its most vulnerable – ie, when elderly, incapacitated or ill. I also fully acknowledge the INMO has been unsurpassable when it comes to supporting nurses in industrial relations issues, or ongoing education.

However, we must acknowledge that the HSE is an exceptional employer. We employees have access to very competitive salary and increments, a pension scheme, education, training and development funding. In addition to generous annual leave entitlements, employees have other leave arrangement options such as family-friendly working, maternity, paternity and parental leave; paid sick leave up to six months on full pay and six months on half pay, etc. In the event of work discord, mediation services can be availed of. Were we in the private sector we would not have such wide-ranging perks.

I don’t feel all options have been explored at this stage. I know I and many of my colleagues would have no issue with the “longer hours” as most are already working 45-50 hours a week just to get our work done, while still getting paid for 37 and a half hours. Surely we need to open our eyes to what we have in comparison with so many more of our colleagues outside the HSE. – Yours, etc,

FLORENCE HORSMAN HOGAN,

Seaview Wood,

Shankill, Co Dublin.

Sir, – When I was a non-consultant hospital doctor in Ireland, I worked, on average, about 65 hours per week. A reduction in overtime pay from time-and-a-half to time-and-a-quarter would be the equivalent of losing a full month’s wages per annum.

I would like to congratulate the Government on making the decision for Irish doctors to emigrate even easier. – Yours etc.

Dr TOBY GILBERT,

MB MRCPI

Glenelg North,

South Australia, Australia.

How does someone staying at their desk for longer save money? If the person is already there for seven hours a day, their quality of work will suffer and it will be as though they didn’t even stay at their desk for that time.

What patient will want to be looked after by nurses going into the 14th hour of their shift, when mistakes can happen more easily?

The average worker will also have to commute in rush hour and make less money, cover the longer childcare hours and spend more time away from their family.

These are very, very, nasty cuts and they are not family-friendly. The Government seems to have cruelly decided to aim randomly in this deal. – Yours, etc,

BRONWYN MOLONY,

Laurel Park,

Clondalkin,

Dublin 22.

Sir, – The nasty little details of the Croke Park II deal have left the whole public sector reeling.
Sir, – The Croke Park proposals represent a massive missed opportunity to make hospitals safer for patients and staff.