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.”

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.”

SIPTU members in the National Ambulance Service serve notice of all out strike action

SIPTU members in the National Ambulance Service (NAS) have served notice of all out strike action from Wednesday, August 10th, at 8.00 a.m., in a dispute related to their conditions of employment. The move follows a ballot earlier this month in which SIPTU members in the NAS voted by 92% to 8% in favour of industrial action, up to and including strike action.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell said: “This action is regrettable but our members feel they have no option. NAS management has failed to adequately engage with our members on a number of issues. These include compensation due to them under the public service agreement, the implementation of a fully developed Intermediate Care Service as recommended by the Labour Court and the application of an annualised hours system.” 

He added: “We are calling on the Minister for Health to instruct the HSE and the NAS management to engage with SIPTU representatives in order to protect and develop a key public health service. SIPTU representatives remain available for meaningful discussions on the issues in dispute.An emergency service will be provided by our members over the strike period.”

Irish Ambulance Representative Council chairman, Peter Ray, said: “The decision to implement all out strike action clearly indicates our members’ frustration at how they have been treated and the failure of senior management to listen to our concerns. In recent years, our members changed work practices and achieved significant cost savings so that the NAS could develop within the financial constraints placed upon it by the wider economic recession. Our members have not received any recognition for the sacrifices they made.”

He added: “It is time for senior management at the HSE to deliver improved terms and conditions and a fully resourced service that is of a standard that the public deserves.

SIPTU members in National Ambulance Service vote overwhelmingly for industrial action

SIPTU members in the National Ambulance Service (NAS) have voted by 92% to 8% to implement industrial action in a dispute related to their conditions of employment in a ballot counted this morning (Monday, 27th June) in Liberty Hall, Dublin 1.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell said: “Unfortunately, our members have no option but to implement a campaign of industrial action. NAS management has also failed to adequately engage with our members concerning the implementation of a fully developed Intermediate Care Service, as recommended by the Labour Court, or in relation to the application of an annualised hours system. 

“SIPTU organisers will now consult with our workplace representatives on what industrial action to implement with the aim of causing the least impact on the public. However, the Minister for Health and the HSE are now on notice that we cannot guarantee that certain ambulance services will not be disrupted or suspended during the period of industrial action.” 

He added: “The message from our members is loud and clear. They are calling on the Minister to instruct the HSE to engage in meaningful negotiations to protect and develop a key public health service on which our communities rely for 365 days a year.”

Chairman of the Irish Ambulance Representative Council, Peter Ray, said: “Following our members’ overwhelming decision to back industrial action senior management at the HSE must focus on constructively dealing with the issues in dispute.

“The ballot result clearly indicates our members’ frustration at how they have been treated and the failure of senior management to listen to their concerns. In recent years, our members changed work practices and achieved significant cost savings so that the NAS could develop within the financial constraints placed upon them by the wider economic recession.

“Our members have not received any recognition for the sacrifices they have made. It is now time for senior management at the HSE to deliver improved terms and conditions as well as a fully resourced service that is of a standard that the public deserves.

SIPTU condemns HSE for failing to intervene in national ambulance control centre dispute

SIPTU members will start industrial action at the National Ambulance Service control centre, in Tallaght, Dublin 24, on Monday (20th June), following the failure of senior HSE management to intervene in a long-running dispute at the facility.

SIPTU Organiser, John McCamley said: “It is regrettable that our members find themselves with no option but to implement a work-to-rule industrial action. This action was originally scheduled for earlier in the month but was delayed in order to allow time for serious negotiations. However, due to the failure of senior HSE management to properly engage with SIPTU representatives these negotiations failed to materialise.

“This dispute is due to the failure of HSE management to honour a number of agreements arrived at following negotiations at the Workplace Relations Commission regarding staffing levels, the filling of permanent vacancies, payment of correct pay rates and retention of emergency call takers.”

He added: “Our members in the National Ambulance Service control centre provide a vital service in sometimes stressful conditions. However, these highly skilled emergency call takers have a starting annual wage of just above €21,000. If the service is to be maintained at the standard necessary, there must be movement by management to implement agreements that it has entered into.

“SIPTU is calling on management to address our members concerns and deal with the staffing and retention issues at the control centre as a matter of urgency.”

SIPTU seeks urgent meeting with Minister for Health concerning ambulance Capacity Review

SIPTU has written to the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, today (Wednesday, 18th May) seeking an urgent meeting to discuss the implementation of the recommendations contained in a capacity review of the National Ambulance Service which was published yesterday.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell said: “We are looking to speak with the Minister concerning what he intends to do to ensure the €25 million necessary to fund the implementation of the recommendations contained in this report is made available. Only when these recommendations are implemented in full will our communities have the standard of first response medical care that they need and the intolerable ambulance waiting times those living in rural communities currently have to endure will be brought to an end.

“SIPTU was the first stakeholder to call for a capacity review of the service in 2014. In recent months, we have fought hard for this review to be published in the public interest. The previous government delayed its publication. This explains why it is dated October 2015 but was only finally published yesterday.”

He added: “The review highlights the unacceptable work loads and conditions our members endure due to the National Ambulance Service being understaffed. According to the review, the service needs an additional 461 personnel, which at the current rate of recruitment would take almost five years to achieve. There is also an urgent requirement for 72 vehicles, many of which will be deployed in rural communities. 

“Our members are deeply concerned that there has been no comment from the current Government on the urgency of providing funds for the full implementation of the recommendations contained in the report.”

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SIPTU defers ballot for strike action in National Ambulance Service

SIPTU has today (Friday, 13th May) deferred a ballot of its members in the National Ambulance Service (NAS) for strike action, on the specific issue of the failure of the HSE to publish a capacity review into the service, until after the Government meets next Tuesday, 17th May. 

The deferral follows the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, formally contacting the union to inform it that he intends to bring the capacity review of the National Ambulance Service to the cabinet for approval.  

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell said: “After consulting our members and the representatives of the Irish Ambulance Representative Council we have agreed to pause the national ballot in light of the decision of the Minister to bring the capacity review to his colleagues in cabinet with a view to securing an agreement for its publication. An emergency meeting of the SIPTU Ambulance Sector Committee will be convened after the cabinet meeting next Tuesday to discuss the following steps in the campaign.” 

Chairman of the Irish Ambulance Representative Council, Peter Ray, said: “I welcome this news with caution. SIPTU Ambulance Professionals have been waiting a very long time for the publication of this capacity review after playing an active and constructive role in its development. We will continue our fight for the world class ambulance service that citizens deserve. We hope that the new Government seize this opportunity to make a long term commitment to the funding of a publicly owned and well resourced National Ambulance Service.”

SIPTU calls for immediate publication of capacity review into National Ambulance Service

SIPTU has written to the new Minister for Health, Simon Harris, calling on him to immediately publish a Department of Health and Health Service Executive (HSE) commissioned capacity review of the National Ambulance Service (NAS).

 SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “Our members are concerned by media reports concerning the recommendations of this much anticipated capacity review. There is a wide variance in these reports regarding the number of additional staff required by the NAS to enable it to meet the recommended level of service. Our members are demanding immediate clarity on this issue. 

“Our members who operate this vital service have waited several months since the completion of this report for its publication and deserve to see it in full now.”

Bell added: “SIPTU has today (Monday, 9th May) written to the new Minister for Health, Simon Harris, to advise him of the commencement of a national ballot of the union’s Ambulance Professionals’ Sector. In this ballot workers are being asked whether they support taking strike action if the Minister maintains the position of his predecessor and refuses to publish the review.

“The letter makes the new Minister clearly aware of our members concerns regarding the need for improvements in the service if it is to adequately respond to the needs of the community.  

“The Minister must immediately publish the capacity review. This will allow stakeholders to engage constructively on the future development of a publicly resourced and run NAS in which the public can have full confidence.”