SIPTU Health representatives have today (Sunday 10th, May) demanded immediate government intervention to ensure that all health workers who are battling to stop the spread of Covid-19 are treated equally.
SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser Paul Bell said: “In recent days, SIPTU Health representatives have demanded clarification from the Health Service Executive (HSE) on two significant points concerning the terms and conditions under which health workers who signed up to Be on Call for Ireland are currently working.”
“The first significant difference is that any directly employed worker advised by occupational health to self-isolate will receive special COVID-19 leave pay. It is our understanding that this policy does not include workers deployed from the Be on Call for Ireland work scheme.”
“SIPTU representatives were also told that there is no life cover or compensation for death in service resulting from COVID-19 as these workers have no contract with the public service. Their contract is with a private agency. This could result in the worker or their family having no support if they contract the disease and are required to self-isolate or even worse if they die in service.
“The reality is that health workers account for 29.5% of the reported COVID-19 cases so far. This is equal to over 6,600 frontline essential workers and with a confirmed fatality rate of 5 it is reasonable to assume that some of these agency workers may contract the disease and also lose their lives.”
He added: “These workers who have answered Ireland’s call are exposed to the exact same risks as workers with direct contracts of employment and this revelation needs an immediate intervention by the Government. We cannot have a situation where the State, on our behalf, procures committed health workers and should they contract COVID-19 working on the frontline of our hospitals, nursing homes or health facilities no support is provided for their families and loved ones.
“We know agencies charge a significant fee for providing a temporary worker to the employer. Given that these health workers signed up on a HSE website, one must question the role of the agency, the money being charged for this service and the rationale for the HSE avoiding its responsibility to them.”