A case of old wine in new bottles aboard Ship Leo

The election of Leo Varadkar as Taoiseach and his appointment of three new ministers to the Cabinet is a case of old wine served in new bottles. It will not change the thrust of Fine Gael policies on the economy or the way in which it treats working people when it comes to income inequality the increasing trend towards precarious and low paid work or the inadequate provision of public services.

The appalling housing crisis leaving almost 100,000 thousand people on local authority waiting lists and the two tier health service which has over 400,000 awaiting hospital treatment will not be improved by the shifting ofdeck chairss on board Ship Leo.

It is likely that a general election will take place next year when Fianna Fáil decides that it has a chance to be returned as the largest party but, for now, it will happily hold its position as main opposition party while exercising its influence over Government action.

In the meantime, the spectre of Brexit looms over the future of hundreds of thousands of workers across the island while the volatile behaviour of US president Donal Trump further threatens global economic and political instability.

The performance of Jeremy Corbyn and a resurgent Labour Party in Britain and the defeat of Le Pen in France have been welcome developments in recent weeks and perhaps just might concentrate the minds of progressive people and parties about the possibilities of a left alternative to the traditional dominance of two right wing parties in this state.

*This Liberty View appeared in the latest Liberty Online. To view and subscribe click here

01/04/2017 Comments are off SIPTU
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SIPTU ambulance members concerned over delays due to emergency department crisis

SIPTU members in the National Ambulance Service (NAS) have expressed concern over the impact on services and patient safety resulting from the delays they are experiencing in signing patients into emergency departments in hospitals across the country.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “Prior to the current crisis, the time that patients were spending between arriving at a hospital and being transferred from the care of ambulance staff to that of the emergency department team was on average 20 minutes or less. However, due to the current overcrowding crisis in emergency departments this time has increased to on average between one to three hours in many hospitals across the country.

“Today, members have reported to me that such delays have been experienced in more than 15 hospitals across the country. The hospitals affected include Letterkenny, Waterford, Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda and St. Vincent’s in Dublin.”

He added: “Such delays are then having knock on effects on other ambulance services including responding to emergency calls and routine patient transfers. The Minister for Health, Simon Harris, must contact HIQA, the regulator of the NAS, to fully brief it on the impact that the emergency department crisis is having on our members’ ability to comply with guidelines in relation to ambulance response times.

“Workers in the NAS are increasingly disturbed and frustrated by the impact that the ongoing crisis in hospital emergency departments is having on their ability to provide an adequate service to their community and the risks to patient safety which are resulting from it. Our members in the NAS cannot be held in anyway accountable for these delays which are completely due to circumstances beyond their control.”

SIPTU Ambulance Professionals vote in favour of WRC proposals

SIPTU members working in the National Ambulance Service (NAS) have voted in favour of Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) proposals on the future development of the service in a ballot counted today (Thursday, 1st September) in Liberty Hall, Dublin 1.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “Our members have voted by two-to-one in favour of these proposals which resolve a number of outstanding issues in the NAS. Perhaps even more importantly, in this vote our members have overwhelmingly backed proposals that will substantially address the under-investment in our ambulance service and include the employment of 600 new workers.

“Our members are determined to ensure that the NAS and the Department of Health fully deliver on these proposals. While the agreement now requires considerable work to guarantee its full implementation we are confident that the way is now clear for our members in the NAS to engage with the employer on the issues of pay restoration, pay progression and pay justice.

Bell added: “In the coming weeks, SIPTU representatives will raise these issues directly with the Minister for Health, Simon Harris. It is also our intention to seek a job evaluation for our members in the NAS through the Public Service Commission, once it is established.”

08/26/2016 Comments are off SIPTUhealth
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SIPTU representatives to submit proposal for NAS job evaluation scheme

SIPTU representatives have today (Friday, 26th August) agreed to submit a proposal to the Public Service Pay Commission for a dedicated job evaluation scheme for members in the National Ambulance Service.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “SIPTU representatives have today (Friday, 26th August) adopted a clear position that the Public Service Pay Commission, which is in the process of being established, provides a dedicated job evaluation scheme for SIPTU members employed in the National Ambulance Service.

“This development is in line with the ICTU submission to the Minister of Public Expenditure and Reform and allows for the SIPTU Health Division, the union recognised nationally for collective bargaining in the ambulance service, to pursue pay justice for our members.”

Bell added: “This bold strategy is in addition to our claim for reimbursement of monies taken by the employer under the FEMPI legislation. Preliminary discussions have also taken place on the most appropriate model for job evaluation for all grades of the National Ambulance Service.”

08/18/2016 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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WRC Proposals: Winning a New Deal for Health

SIPTU Ambulance Professionals have secured the necessary funding for the development of our National Ambulance Service in accordance with the recommendations of the HSE National Ambulance Service Capacity Review.

The Capacity Review was undertaken at the insistence of SIPTU representatives at a meeting of the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health in February 2014.

In March 2016, SIPTU Ambulance Professionals held a special conference where your elected representatives adopted the following agenda for a campaign to ensure that our National Ambulance Service is fully funded and that’s fit for purpose:

  • The publication of the HSE National Ambulance Service Capacity Review.
  • The implementation of a fully developedIntermediate Care Service.
  • The payment of compensation for loss of earnings for our members under the terms of the public service agreement.
  • That management engage in exploratory talks on annualised hours as per the terms of the Haddington Road Agreement.

Together, we have delivered on this agenda.

Together, we have secured agreement on the following proposals:

  • The recruitment of 461 Paramedics.
  • An additional 150 Intermediate Care Officers.
  • Confirmation of payment of loss of earnings currently outstanding under public service agreements.
  •  Establishment of a working group to oversee the implementation of the Capacity Review.

Our campaign is not over. The campaign continues…Now is the time for us to stand united to ensure these proposals are implemented in full by the Government. This cannot happen without your endorsement and support.

Winning a New Deal for Health  is our main priority and critical to our agenda as we take the next steps to deliver pay restoration, pay progression and pay justice for our members.

Download proposals at a glance here

SIPTU Ambulance Professionals to ballot on WRC proposals

SIPTU representatives have today (Tuesday, 16th August) issued ballot papers to members, working in the National Ambulance Service (NAS), ahead of a vote on Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) proposals which include increased funding for the service.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell said: “SIPTU representatives were successful in securing these proposals which include necessary funding for the development of the NAS. However, our campaign to improve the country’s ambulance service is not over. SIPTU Ambulance Professionals are now being asked to work together to ensure these proposals are implemented in full by the Government.”

He added: “Winning a new deal for health service workers and users is our main priority but this cannot happen without our members’ full endorsement. Supporting these proposals is critical to our shared agenda as we take the next steps to deliver pay restoration, pay progression and pay justice for our members.”  

Any member who does not receive a ballot paper in the coming days please email ask@siptuhealth.ie

SIPTU suspends ambulance strike following commitment on extra funding for service

SIPTU representatives have indefinitely suspended a planned all-out strike by members in the National Ambulance Service which was due to commence on Wednesday, 10th August.

The move follows SIPTU representatives securing a formal commitment from the Department of Health, Health Service Executive (HSE) and National Ambulance Service (NAS) management for substantial new investment in the service, at talks this evening at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “The commitments secured this evening contain concrete guarantees on staffing levels, compensation for loss of earnings and the establishment of a working group to deal with other issues relating to the NAS.

“Specifically, our members have secured commitments for the recruitment of 150 new emergency technicians for deployment into the Intermediate Care Service over a two-year period. There is also a commitment to implement the recommendations outlined in the NAS capacity review. This confirms that 461 paramedics will be recruited on a phased basis over a five-year period which will entail recruiting in excess of 100 paramedics each year on an incremental basis.

“Other issues resolved include securing compensation for loss of earnings for our members under the terms of the public service agreement. This is to be paid at the next available payroll.”

He added: “These negotiations have been protracted and at times difficult for our members. For them to even contemplate taking all-out strike action shows the seriousness of the issues that were in dispute. However, they remained united and have succeeded in securing commitments for the resources necessary to provide the standard of ambulance service the public deserve.

“Our members are aware that today marks merely the beginning of the journey towards securing the future of a public ambulance service that is fully funded, fit for purpose and enjoys public confidence. However, the commitments provided by the Government and the relevant state agencies this evening indicate that they are willing to play an active role in supporting ambulance professionals in developing a world class service.”

08/04/2016 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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SIPTU accepts invitation to attend WRC in attempt to resolve ambulance dispute

SIPTU representatives will attend a meeting at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) tomorrow morning (Friday, 5th August) in an attempt to resolve the dispute in the National Ambulance Service prior to the implementation of strike action on Wednesday, 10th August.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “SIPTU representatives accepted this invitation from the WRC after lengthy discussions today with Health Service Executive (HSE) management and Department of Health officials. Unfortunately, these discussions failed to result in a breakthrough on the key issues of concern to our members in this dispute, specifically the recruitment of Intermediate Care Vehicle personnel and emergency ambulance professionals.

“With strike action by our members imminent it would seem that management is now focused on the issues in dispute. However, its lack of urgency up to this point has resulted in a lack confidence among our members that it is willing to deliver the solutions needed to avert the implementation of all-out strike action from next Wednesday.”

He added: “SIPTU representatives will enter the talks in the WRC with a constructive attitude aimed at securing solutions to this dispute. However, there is still much to be agreed between our members and management if an all-out strike is to be averted.”

08/04/2016 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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Audio: Negotiations between Siptu and HSE ongoing to avoid all-out strike in ambulance service

Audio: Listen back to SIPTU Divisional Organiser Paul Bell on Morning Ireland discussing next weeks ‪#‎NAStrike‬

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08/03/2016 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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SIPTU to meet with HSE tomorrow to discuss imminent ambulance strike

SIPTU representatives will meet with Health Service Executive (HSE) management and Department of Health officials, tomorrow (Thursday, 4th August), in a final attempt to avert strike action in the National Ambulance Service (NAS) from Wednesday, 10th August.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell said: “This dispute is centred on the failure of management to implement binding Labour Court recommendations, honour national public service pay agreements and resource the ambulance service to a world-class level.

“Our members have brought solutions to the table from day one. They demand meaningful engagement from their employer and concrete proposals to resolve this dispute once and for all.”

He added: “The Department of Health has allowed the ambulance service to drift into the situation where our members will withdraw their labour, apart from emergency cover, from Wednesday, 10th August. The fact that the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, has remained indifferent throughout this dispute is totally unacceptable. 

“SIPTU Ambulance Professionals would much rather be serving citizens and their communities than be forced into taking industrial action. However, they have no other option in order to ensure the issues in dispute are resolved in the public interest.”