SIPTU Nursing representatives will engage in negotiations with the management of the Health Service Executive and Department of Health, today (Wednesday, 23rd January), concerning the recruitment and retention of nursing and midwifery professionals.
Updates will be available on the SIPTU Health Division App and website.
SIPTU nursing representatives met with the HSE today on the measures required to advance the pay and conditions of employment of our nursing and midwifery members, having regard to the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA).
SIPTU representatives urged the health service employers to consider the recommendation of the Public Service Pay Commission that the parties to the PSSA should examine the adequacy of current pay arrangements and should do so as a matter of urgency.
SIPTU fully supports the right of all workers to fight for better pay and conditions in the most effective manner as determined by union members.
SIPTU representatives have today (Friday, 28th December) confirmed that more than 7,000 support grade staff working in major hospitals and other healthcare centres across the state will be balloted for strike action early in the New Year.
The decision follows a Government refusal to concede an increase awarded to them through an independent job evaluation process that was concluded under the terms of the Public Service Stability Agreement.
SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell said: “Our members working in support grades in the health service will be balloted for strike action in January. This is a result of both the Government and the HSE ignoring formal requests to engage with SIPTU representatives concerning the conduct of the job evaluation process which concluded in October.
“We agreed with the Government on the reintroduction of the support staff job evaluation scheme in 2016, after it had been suspended in 2009. Unfortunately, the HSE and Department of Public Expenditure and Reform delayed the start of the evaluation process and are now further delaying the implementation of its findings. Our members have been significantly disadvantaged as a result.
“Phase one and two of the evaluation process determined that SIPTU members employed in several grades, including Health Care Assistants, Maternity Care Assistants, Laboratory Aides and Surgical Instrument Technicians, have been substantially underpaid for many years. The cost of implementing the scheme is believed to be approximately €17 million, with many members advancing one or two grades within the existing four band Support Staff pay scale.”
He added: “The agreed job evaluation process has independently confirmed that thousands of support staff employed directly by the HSE and in Section 38 organisations perform duties of a higher skillset than those set out in their original job descriptions. In some cases, our members have been underpaid by up to €6,000 a year.”
Listen to interview with Paul Bell on RTE Radio 1 here
SIPTU representatives have today (Thursday, 27th December) welcomed the signing of the Public Service Superannuation (Age of Retirement) Bill by the President of Ireland but warned that some concerns over the rate of pay for those workers who chose to stay in the public service remain outstanding.
SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “While we welcome this development, the Public Service Superannuation (Age of Retirement) Bill still does not address some of our members concerns.
Many members working in the health service, some of whom had up to 30 years’ service, suffered the injustice of being put back to the first point of the scale when they applied to stay on beyond 65 when the state pension was raised to 66 years of age.
He added: “Until that issue is resolved and all workers who were forced to stay on beyond the age of 65 are treated with the same respect our campaign will continue. If not, pay inequity will rear its head again in the public service despite all the efforts made to address the new entrants issue which was addressed and will come into operation March 2019.”
Under the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA), all SIPTU members working in the public health service, earning up to €30,000 will see an increase of 1% in their wages from January.
The pension levy threshold will also rise to €32,000, increasing pay by €325 a year for the majority of SIPTU members.
The deal, which was negotiated by SIPTU and other unions in 2017, will also deliver another 1.75% salary adjustment in September 2019.
Further pay restoration and another adjustment in the pension levy threshold are also due next year.
The PSSA will also see an end to the pension levy on any non-pensionable elements of public service incomes from January 2019.
Three significant changes to the public service ‘additional superannuation contribution,’ which replaced the so-called pension levy under the Public Service Stability Agreement, will also come into force on 1st January.
First, the threshold for paying the levy will rise to €32,000, bringing a net improvement of €325 a year for most civil and public servants. Those who currently earn less than €30,000 a year, who do not benefit from this change, will instead get a 1% pay increase next month.
Secondly, there’s a further boost for those who joined the public service after January 2013 and who are in the single public service pension scheme, which was introduced at that time. They will now pay only two-thirds of the additional contribution rate – a figure that will fall to one-third next year.
This reflects the fact that the benefits of the single scheme are different from those in the older scheme.
Thirdly, the contribution will no longer be payable on any non-pensionable elements of public service incomes from January 2019.
Earlier this year, SIPTU and other ICTU unions, also insisted on early measures to address the ‘new entrants’ pay issue even though, under the agreement, this was not bound to be dealt with until 2020 at the earliest. The Public Service Committee of Congress also insisted that the Public Service Pay Commission started its work on recruitment and retention issues in the health service.
Non-pay provisions in the PSSA include strong protections against outsourcing and a fix on professional registration fees.
For Section 39 workers, €1000 in pay restoration will be paid from April 2019.
Payments will also be made in 2020 and 2021. These proposals ensure that, after a long and hard fought campaign, our members working in Section 39 organisations will get full pay restoration.
An end of year video review and plans for 2019 will be emailed to all SIPTU Health members on Friday 28th December. It will also feature in our final Sunday Read of 2018. Please share it with colleagues.
SIPTU representatives have noted the clarification issued by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, yesterday (Thursday, 20th December), concerning the interim measures introduced to deal with the processing backlog for work permits for non-European Economic Area (EEA) nursing staff.
He added: “The majority of SIPTU nursing members working in the Mater Hospital in Dublin have now received notification that their Stamp 4 letters of support have been processed. We are calling for the revised criteria to be highlighted to the relevant employers, so nurses, or other workers in critical areas, do not face a situation of being removed from their employment due to work permit processing delays.”
SIPTU Ambulance Sector representatives have today (Thursday, 20th December) confirmed that agreement has been secured on the conduct of an independent review of the role and responsibilities of ambulance professionals as part of the Public Service Stability Agreement.
SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “Our representatives have reached agreement with the management of the National Ambulance Service and the Health Service Executive (HSE) for the application of a joint independent process which will examine the roles, responsibilities, duties and skillset of ambulance professionals.
“It has been the view of the members of the SIPTU Health Division Ambulance Sector that the development of their role in recent years is not currently fully recognised by management. Ambulance professionals make a major contribution in the delivery of frontline medical services.”
He added: “The independent review of the role of ambulance professionals will start in January 2019 and conclude in June 2019. The SIPTU Health Division and HSE have agreed the review will cover the roles of Advanced Paramedic, Paramedic and Emergency Medical Technician in the National Ambulance Service.”
SIPTU Sector Organiser, Miriam Hamilton, said: “SIPTU representatives are committed to working within the terms of the Public Service Stability Agreement to bring about full pay restoration and progression for our members.”
She added: “Should the independent review confirm that our members are not on the correct pay scale for their contribution, or if management seek productivity increases outside the terms of the Public Service Stability Agreement, then our members will seek pay or grade recalibration.”
Irish Ambulance Representative Council (IARC) Chairperson, Hillery Collins, said: “The key objective of this process is to have ambulance professionals finally recognised as professionals. This will include our members being remunerated appropriately and the prioritisation of their continuous professional development so they are fully prepared to meet the challenges the health service faces in the coming years.”
SIPTU representatives have today (Monday, 17th December) sought Government intervention to address the current backlog in processing work permits for up to 35 nursing staff working in the Mater University Hospital, Dublin.
Due to these delays existing nursing staff, some of whom have been working for a number of years in the health service, have been told they cannot attend for work over the coming weeks.
SIPTU Organiser, John McCamley said: “SIPTU representatives are calling on the Minister for Health, Simon Harris and the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI), Heather Humphreys to intervene in order to expedite the processing of DBEI documentation for non-EU nursing staff working in the Mater hospital.
“It is particularly troubling that staff who have come to Ireland to help keep the health service going throughout the Christmas period have been told that they cannot work due to administrative delays.”
He added: “During the winter months our health services can be pushed to the brink, so to remove nursing staff from critical areas because of backlogs seems like an unnecessary self-inflicted wound. It is likely that these nurses are not alone and that the delays will cause difficulty to health workers in other grades and employments. SIPTU is seeking that priority is given to clearing this backlog so that reassurance can be given to all affected staff.”