07/19/2018 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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Support the call for a new inquest into the Stardust nightclub disaster

The ‘They Never Came Home’ Campaign is calling for a new inquest into the Stardust nightclub disaster which claimed 48 young lives on 14th February 1981. The original inquest into the tragedy was held in March 1982 when little detail was known about the events of that night. There is now much more detail known which has increased the suspicion concerning the events surrounding the disaster.

In order to support the call for a new inquest, people are requested to fill in postcards which are available at the front desk of Liberty Hall. The postcards contain a request to the Attorney General to exercise his right under Section 24 of the Coroners Act 1962 to grant a fresh inquest into the disaster.

There is no need to personally mail the postcards as our colleague Gerry Harris will collect them and ensure their delivery on behalf of the campaign.

07/16/2018 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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Ambulance response times more than a numbers game

SIPTU representatives have said that patient outcome is the only fair indicator of success when measuring response times in the National Ambulance Service.

Speaking after the publication of a HSE report into ambulance response times, SIPTU Divisional Organiser, Paul Bell said: “Our members believe inadequate road infrastructure, the increase in extreme weather events, the nature of the callouts, and the difficulties ambulance professionals are having getting from emergency departments are all having a big impact on response time figures.”

A high proportion of rural callouts mean ambulance response times will continue to struggle to significantly improve on the current figures. 12 per cent of ambulance callouts in the UK are classified as rural, compared to 40 per cent in Ireland.

He added: “The 19-minute response guidelines set down by HIQA as the key performance indicator is unrealistic. The guidelines should take into consideration patient outcome as a measurement of paramedic success, not simple headline-grabbing numbers.”

07/15/2018 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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Statistics don’t always tell the truth (they are open to interpretation)

Today, statistics are major currencies in policy discussions and debates. They are used as weapons by government ministers, politicians and political commentators alike, to disarm the opposition.

However, we must be careful with how we readily accept them as facts, because they are also open to interpretation. Furthermore, statistics that do not accurately measure the claim that is being made, are often thrown about.

A case in point is an article written by Dan O’Brien for the Irish Independent recently in which he makes the spurious claim that precarious work is not a “real issue” in Ireland and attempts to use statistics to back up his claim. His use of such statistics, however, weakened his claim because the CSO’s statistics on precarious work do not give us an accurate measurement of it. To quote him directly, he claimed that:

“For decades, the State’s statisticians have visited thousands of homes every three months to ask people very detailed questions about their employment situation. One of the many questions they ask is whether PAYE workers have permanent or temporary contracts with their employers. Over those two decades, there has been no marked change, with around 90 pc of employees on permanent contracts and only 10 pc on temporary contracts.”

This is an inaccurate representation of temporary work, for a number of reasons.

Recently, TASC launched a report on precarious work: Living with uncertainty: the social implications of precarious work. The report set out to map precarious work in Ireland, and the impact this type of work has on precarious workers’ lives. TASC identified three main types of employment in Ireland that are contractually precarious: part-time work with variable hours (‘if-and-when’ contracts), temporary work and solo self-employment. This was investigated through a mixed-methods approach, which included statistical analysis of Central Statistic Office (CSO) data and qualitative in-depth interviews with 15 significant informants and 40 precarious workers.

CSO statistics do not give an accurate measurement of precarious work

Short-comings were encountered while accessing the CSO’s data related to non-standard employment and precarious work in Ireland. Therefore, it was not possible to measure the full extent of non-standard employment through CSO statistics alone. The main reason for this is the method of data collection used by the Quarterly National Household Survey (QNHS); the survey question is related to the respondent’s understanding of their employment status, rather than their actual contractual status.

This technicality poses questions for the reliability of responses, particularly for those who do not have a contract, or for those who are simply unaware of their contract’s details.

For instance, many of our participants were initially unaware that they are contractually precarious for several reasons, including the lack of a contract. Consequently, many referred to their employment as ‘permanent’, although it was later revealed that they were on temporary, ‘roll-on’ contracts (e.g. renewed every 3 or 12 months).

If and when contracts are not measured as a type of precarious work

Furthermore, many of those with ‘if-and-when’ contracts often work more or less than regular weekly hours. If-and-when workers can, therefore, be classified as either regular part-time or even full-time workers, as the Irish QNHS refers to hours worked rather than what is stated in the contract.  These workers’ hours, however, are not guaranteed—a fact that makes their job situations precarious.

We need data on precarious work on a sector-by-sector basis

Another shortcoming of the CSO’s data on precarious employment is that it does not give us detailed, sector-by-sector data on precarious work. While it does provide data on non-standard employment for NACE sectors (Nomenclature générale des Activités économiques dans les Communautés Européennes), these are still too broad.

For example, it looks at education as a whole but does not give us statistical information for sub-sectors within education, such as Early Years and Pre-school, Third Level and English Language Schools. These are just some of the subsectors with high levels of precarious work, yet we cannot get an accurate measurement of this through CSO statistics.

And it is this data that is imperative to understanding the rise of such temporary and insecure employment; the key is not just to look at the overall figures for temporary work, part-time work with variable hours and self-employment, but to see how it is rising within each sector.

Statistical limitations need to be addressed 

Therefore, no one can truly know the overall total of precarious workers in Ireland because the data does not exist. If we want to better understand the extent of precarious work in Ireland, this is a real obstacle. The QNHS needs to address these limitations, particularly by looking at how they categorise people on if-and-when contracts and by addressing the misconceptions surrounding a person’s understanding of whether they are permanent or temporary.

However, as the TASC research report illustrates, what remains clear is that precarious work is a real issue that is having a profoundly negative effect on peoples’ health, access to healthcare services, housing, childcare services and family formation in Ireland.

Effective policy is needed to address these shortcomings.

Pay restoration and progression in play

Last October, SIPTU members commenced a campaign for pay restoration in Section 39 organisations.

This involved tremendous efforts by local shop stewards and activists in galvanising members in pursuing a campaign for industrial action where required.

This campaign including lobbying of local political activists, TDs, Senators which resulted in both the matters being subject to Dail debates and a Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health hearing at which we presented the arguments for pay restoration.

Following a successful campaign, our members voted overwhelmingly in favour of industrial action.  The real threat of withdrawal of labour was presented to the Government last February.

All along, the Government maintained the position that they were not part of this process and should not be part of the solution.

It was only through our collective efforts that Government were forced to the negotiating table.

A conciliation process was agreed by the Workplace Relations Commission and in order to avert the impending strike action.  This intervention forced the Government departments and Section 39 employers to engage in the process.

The Workplace Relations Commission recommended that the Government departments conduct an audit review on fifty Section 39 employment identified by the unions.

The purpose of the audit was to ascertain the level of funding cuts, the pay cuts and what pay restoration had taken place if any.

It also forced the Section 39 agencies to engage directly on the funding requirements for the services provided. We understand that the process to complete this audit and the delays in having re-engagements in the Workplace Relations Commission is frustrating.

During this period, we continued to agitate to ensure the dispute remained relevant.

The current position is as follows:

  • The Workplace Relations Commission reconvened all the parties on the 9thJuly 2018 to discuss the audit report and its recommendations.

The Audit recommendations included:

  • Acceptance that Government will have to assist in finding and funding a solution.
  • That Section 39 Agencies will have to present a cost analysis of the increased funding required.
  • The Chairman of the Board will have to sign off on same and will be accountable in the event an audit determines the figures as inaccurate.
  • Verification of the Unions claim for pay restoration and confirming our members had suffered pay cuts through reductions in funding.
  • A process for pay restoration should be implemented where cuts took place.

SIPTU representatives maintain that as the pay restoration commenced in 2017 that this should be reflected in the agreement reached for section 39 members.

At this hearing, SIPTU representatives left the employers’ side in no doubt of their anger and frustration at the delays in furthering this process.

We also insisted that commencement of pay restoration measures have to happen in 2018.  Failure of the Government side to confirm pay restoration in 2018 will lead us with no option but to commence a course of industrial strike action from September.

The Workplace Relations Commission adjourned the hearing to Wednesday 25th July at which time the Government side will have to respond to our demands.

If we do not get a satisfactory response we will be preparing our members to engage in a course of industrial action from September.

We have tried to resolve this matter without the requirement of industrial action, however, we will not be found wanting in ensuring our members’ claims are progressed.

The process to date has been slow and arduous. We acknowledge the frustrations and patience demonstrated by members.

We have placed the Government on notice of our intention to invoke again our threat of industrial strike action if we do not see real progress and a genuine commitment to finding a resolution to this matter.

Our members have shown great determination in pursuing this claim. We will not be found wanting in securing a fair and just process of resolving this dispute.

07/09/2018 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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Section 39 pay restoration talks adjourn until July 25th

SIPTU representatives have today (Monday, 9th July) said that talks in the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) between Department of Health and the Health Service Executive (HSE) have adjourned until Wednesday 25h July to allow the Government time to consider the unions demand for an essential confidence-building measure aimed at avoiding potential strike action in early September.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “The basis of our discussions today centred on the data gathered by a HSE audit into fifty nominated Section 39 organisations. The results of the audit are clear. There is a definitive pay link between Section 39 and other public service health workers. Our members want their money back in line with their colleagues in the public service and are determined to see the commencement of pay restoration in the final quarter of 2018.

“In this regard, SIPTU representatives have made it known to the government parties that we expect our members in Section 39 organisations to be paid the equivalent of the 1% due to all public servants under the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA) on 1st October. This payment works out at approximately €1.5 million.

“This payment is the minimum our members expect from any confidence-building measure aimed at preventing industrial unrest in the sector in September. This measure is also aimed at keeping union representatives within the agreed WRC process.”

He added: “Should the Government decide not to the right thing, and pay our members what they are owed, then it will be obvious that our members claim for pay justice is not being taken seriously.”

07/08/2018 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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SIPTU to resume Section 39 talks in ‘end game’ for pay justice campaign

SIPTU representatives are to resume pay talks with the Health Service Executive (HSE), the Department of Health and Section 39 health service providers on Monday (9th July) morning at 11.00 a.m.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “The talks, held under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), will initially consider the HSE audit of Section 39 organisations. There will then be discussions on how to achieve a sustainable solution concerning how its findings can be addressed, funded and implemented.

“We are now at a critical phase in our campaign. Monday marks the beginning of the end game in a struggle for the thousands of Section 39 workers prepared to commit to strike action to achieve the respect and recognition they deserve.

“The findings of the HSE audit of Section 39 organisations are clear for all to see. There is an established pay link between Section 39 workers and their counterparts in the HSE. The content of the extensive audit document confirms the process for employers to secure funding from the state to restore our members pay.”

He added: “SIPTU representatives remain insistent that pay restoration will commence in 2018 and our members remain committed to this objective. We will also be insisting on an agreed timeline for the commencement and conclusion of pay restoration for workers in Section 39 organisations.

“We are mindful of the delay in the pay restoration process for Section 39 workers when compared to their directly employed HSE colleagues under the terms of the Public Service Stability Agreement.”

07/03/2018 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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New Nursing and Midwifery Rules Enacted

Five nursing and midwifery new rules are now in place and will be published shortly on Irish Statue Book.

Collectively the new rules create a legislative framework which allows the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland to fulfil its statutory obligations.

Until now there was no secondary legislation under the Nurses and Midwives Act 2011 for:

  • Registration;
  • Qualification recognition;
  • The candidate register; and
  • The structure of registers.

The new set of rules addresses these areas.

The new rules have regard to the Department of Health’s “Framework for Performance Indicators for Nursing and Midwifery”, launched by the Minister and the Chief Nurse in June 2017. The Framework sets out an approach to workforce planning for the professions of nursing and midwifery in Ireland in the future.

The Education and Training Rules in particular will give effect to the recent Department of Health “Policy for Graduate, Specialist and Advanced Nursing and Midwifery Practice”, to remove the current requirement to link ‘a person with a post’ or accredit advanced practice posts. The Board will continue to set the requirements and standards for advanced nursing and midwifery practice and registration, but will no longer accredit advanced practice posts.

The President of NMBI, Essene Cassidy said: “The enactment of these new rules is the culmination of years of work and public consultations. A huge amount of collaboration was necessary to make this happen, and I would like to thank all of our stakeholders for their input, in particular the Department of Health. The rules were a priority for the Board, and we were very committed to delivering them for the professions of nursing and midwifery. The new rules ensure that there is a coherent framework of secondary legislation which will support the NMBI in carrying out its functions under the Act.”

NMBI’s Director of Registration, Lucia Crimin said: “The new rules will provide clarity to stakeholders, applicants and registrants. They will also change how we collect minimum datasets, and NMBI’s registers will play an important role in providing the relevant collective data on nurses and midwives into the future.”

Summary description of the new suite of rules:

Register Rules:

These Rules provide for the divisions of the register of nurses and midwives maintained by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland under the Nurses and Midwives Act 2011, and the particulars to be entered in such register.

Candidate Register Rules

These Rules provide for the divisions of the candidate register maintained by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland under the Nurses and Midwives Act 2011, and the particulars to be entered in such register.

Education and Training Rules

These Rules set down the criteria for admission to education and training programmes in nursing and midwifery. In addition, they make provision for applications by bodies seeking to deliver such programmes and a system of review and enforcement to ensure the maintenance of high standards in the delivery of such programmes

Recognition Rules

These Rules provide for the procedures and requirements for recognition of professional qualifications in nursing and midwifery by the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland.

Registration Rules

These Rules provide for the procedures for applying to the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland for registration in the register of nurses and midwives and the candidate register. In addition, they provide for the retention of registration in the register of nurses and midwives.

06/26/2018 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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SIPTU representatives confirm Section 39 talks to reconvene on Monday 9th July

SIPTU representatives have today (Wednesday, 27th June) confirmed that pay restoration talks between SIPTU, the Health Service Executive, the Department of Health and Section 39 health service providers will reconvene, under the auspices of the agreed Workplace Relations Commission process, on Monday 9th July.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “Our members are understandably very frustrated at the pace that this process is developing. They emphatically voted yes for strike action in February in their quest to win pay justice. While that strike action was deferred on foot of an agreement that pay restoration would begin this year we are mindful that we are entering the second half of 2018 with no clear timetable for monies to be paid. This inaction will not work for our members.”

He added: “Our members across the Section 39 organisations have taken great heart from the victory of the workers in the Irish Society for Autism as they secured a win worth thousands of euro in early June. Their victory serves as a timely reminder to workers that taking action gets results.”

06/24/2018 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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Young Workers – Join a Union

Young people who face the scourges of low pay and insecure work need to engage with trade unions.

A great place for unions to start is with the 180,000 students studying on third level campuses across the country.

Every year, SIPTU representatives visit third level colleges in conjunction with the Union of Students in Ireland and embark on targeted site visits to student nursing, healthcare and paramedic courses.

SIPTU organisers and activists run campaign stands, sign young people up to the union and gather signatures for petitions demanding the living wage and secure jobs for all workers.

This year, activists handed out a new Young Worker Survival Guides full of information on workers’ rights and trade unions.

In the last few years, an important partnership has been agreed between SIPTU and the Union of Students in Ireland. Under the agreement, all members of USI can access advice and representation from SIPTU through the Workers’ Rights Centre.

Many young people today face insecurity and hardship in terms of their employment and living standards. In addition to the rising cost of education and housing, young workers often experience precarious working arrangements.

Issues such as low pay, short-term contracts, insecure hours – these were some of the injustices that gave rise to the trade union movement many years ago. Young people today need trade union representation, and trade unions need young people to become members.

Yet while thousands of young people have joined SIPTU in recent years, there is still a very large percentage who are not joining unions. While there are many possible reasons for this, one issue is probably that many young people have never come into contact with a trade union before.

Without having a visible union in their workplace, or having a family tradition of union activism many young people think of trade unions as representing “other” groups of workers.

This is reinforced through the media where most coverage of trade union activity focuses on transport disputes, public sector negotiations etc. – crucial matters but ones which might not seem immediately relevant to many workers in non-unionised parts of the private sector.

Many employment sectors are hostile ground for union organisers and so young workers in these sectors may have never considered joining a union. They might not realise that we represent people in their profession or what the benefits are.

It is crucial that the union movement explores new ways of reaching young people, and SIPTU’s current development plan layout many proposals in this regard.

Increased visibility, campaigning and organising on college campuses can be a crucial part of this. During the college visits, we found great support among the students’ union activists for working with SIPTU.

The USI has adopted strong policies on issues such as the living wage and precarious work.

All workers have the right to fair pay and secure jobs. The growth of precarious work must be challenged. Fairness at work and justice in society are ideas that appeal to all generations.

Through organising into trade unions young workers have a powerful tool for securing these rights, and as Ireland’s largest union, SIPTU can lead the way.

06/23/2018 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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1st July 2018 deadline for restoring to the Register

Removals from the Register of Nurses and Midwives took place in March 2018 following a meeting of the NMBI Board. Names were removed from the Register of Nurses and Midwives in accordance with Section 77 of the Nurses and Midwives Act 2011 (the Act) for failure to pay the Annual Retention Fee for 2018.

If you were removed and do not make the restoration application on or before 1 July 2018 you must go through a new registration application process and pay your ARF and restoration fees, as per the removal letter sent to you in March 2018.

Restoration ProcessYou can apply to restore your name to the Register, in accordance with Section 78 of the Act on or before 1 July 2018.   Please note the following important instructions:

  • Please click to download the Restoration Form.
  • Complete the form fully and sign it.
  • Return the completed form along with the restoration fee of €250 AND pay your outstanding ARF.  The restoration fee amount can be paid by completing the credit/debit card mandate on the Restoration Form or by enclosing a bank draft, postal order, or cheque. It may take up to 7 working days to process the form. Please be advised that no personal cheques or cash payments will be accepted.
  • Alternatively please call our call centre on 1890 200 116.

It is your legal and professional responsibility to ensure that your name is on the Register if you practise nursing or midwifery in Ireland. It is an offence to practise nursing/midwifery if your name is not on the Register. This includes clinical practice, nursing /midwifery management, education or research.

Disbandment of the NMBI Inactive File

The inactive file was established in May 1993 as an administrative mechanism to facilitate nurses and midwives who were not in active practice, for reasons including retirement, working abroad or undertaking a career break. However, there is no legislative basis under either the Nurses Act, 1985 or the Nurses and Midwives Act 2011 for the inactive file.

Following a public consultation in March 2017, the NMBI Board approved a proposal to disband the inactive file. The process to disband the inactive file was agreed by the Board in May 2018 and is set out below.

Process

  • Commence communication with the professions advising that the inactive file will be disbanded in 2018 and that NMBI will place all persons currently on the inactive file on the active Register from November 2018.
  • These persons will be invited to pay their Annual Retention Fee (ARF) in Q4 2018 should they wish to remain on the Register in 2019 as part of the bulk mailing process for ARF 2019.
  • Affected persons can choose to pay the ARF and remain on the Register, voluntarily remove from the Register or be removed for non-payment of the ARF, as part of that process in Q1 2019.
  • Affected persons will have time to consider their registration in the context of impending requirements for maintenance of professional competence, and criteria for restoration as fully registered nurses and midwives, currently under review by NMBI.

Following feedback from the consultation exercise, NMBI will consider a mechanism by which former registered nurses and midwives can continue to engage with the NMBI in a manner which is compliant with the General Data Protection Regulation.