30/06/2021 Comments are off AideenC

SIPTU members: Vaccination update

SIPTU Health representatives attended a meeting with national vaccination team today (Wednesday, 30th June). The following update was received.

Updated NIAC advice received by HSE

  • Astra Zeneca and Janssen may now be offered to anyone left to receive any vaccine – previously only offered to over 50s.
  • HSE working on updated advice to put plans in place. The remaining categories will be offered the option of availing of one of the above vaccines if it means they will get access to a vaccination sooner instead of having to wait for a MRNA vaccine. Predominately, this will mean all remaining categories from 34 years and under will be given the option of the above vaccines or wait longer for a MRNA vaccine.
  • HSE looking at updating registration process for this cohort with revised questionnaires on registration form, updating the consent form and more information on the available vaccines offered.Updated advice – Astra Zeneca dose intervals back to 4 weeks.
  • HSE were trying to complete all outstanding seconddoses by week commencing 19th July. 
  • Under revised criteria they are working towards completion of all outstanding 2nd doses by end of next week where possible – Some healthcare workers still to receive 2nd dose will be included in this group.
  • HSE COO has written to each CEO in the hospital groups to ensure all staff encompassed by this are afforded access to their 2nd vaccine dose in line with the updated interval between doses.
  • HSE still operating on 340k appointments a week at present based on available vaccines.
  • HSE envisage spare appointment capacity from week commencing 12th July  based on current available MRNA (Pfizer / Moderna) stock of 150k /180k per week.  The remainder of appointments can be made up in registrations for Astra Zeneca  / Janssen based on uptake in remaining categories.
  • HSE continuing to roll out 2nd dose MRNA (Pfizer / Moderna) vaccines in the 4 week timeframe.
  • General Practitioners continuing to roll out to the cohorts assigned to them.
  • Pharmacists continuing to roll out Janssen vaccine to over 50s
  • 200K Janssen vaccines due between now and end of July (inclusive of existing stock in system, pharmacies, storage etc).
  • HSE advised that the Helix vaccination centre will transfer to the Convention Centre in Santry which can provide a better layout.
  • Meath 2nd vaccination centre up in running in Fairyhouse, with an ongoing increase in the number of available booths as staffing levels improve there.
  • CHO 1 and CHO 8 continuing to actively recruit vaccinators. All other areas reduced to recruitment of replacement or specific posts as they arise.
  • The Union’s and the HSE agreed to meet again next Wednesday (6th July) for a further update.
24/06/2021 Comments are off AideenC

SIPTU says pandemic has proven need for well-funded and dynamic public services

SIPTU has called for people to reflect on the need for well-funded and dynamic public services which has been starkly illustrated by their response to the Covid-19 pandemic. 

SIPTU Deputy General Secretary for the Public Service, John King, said: “Today, (Wednesday, 23rd June) is United Nations International Public Services Day. It is an opportunity to acknowledge and reflect on the importance of public services to individuals and society. Public services make a crucial contribution to sustainable economic growth. 

“Rather than being a cost, public services are drivers of productivity. They are key to promoting equality and social solidarity. They boost living standards and underpin how communities and states are built.

“In SIPTU, and the wider trade union movement, we are committed to creating public services that will provide the basis of economic growth and a good society. Through the ‘More Power to You’ initiative, we are campaigning, alongside colleague trade unions, for a greater role for local authorities in the delivery of public services in order to enhance their accessibility and accountability as well as bringing their control closer to communities. 

“In the crucial area of childcare, the Big Start campaign has made giant strides towards organising a low-paid and often undervalued workforce to demand reforms that will benefit children, working families and society as a whole. Elsewhere, we work to ensure public procurement is both transparent and efficient while pushing for the creation of the patient-centred healthcare system envisaged in Sláintecare.”

He added: “So today, as we slowly emerge from a once-in-a-century crisis which has starkly illustrated the importance of public services, the job of trade unionists is to shape and build a new dynamic economy with a prosperous society underpinned by properly resourced public services. There can be no going back to the days when public services and public service workers have been undervalued and under-resourced. The reality is that public service workers want to leave the legacy of austerity and negativity behind them. They want to work in a well-funded, properly resourced system that delivers the type of the high quality world class services that all our citizens deserve.”

23/06/2021 Comments are off SIPTU Health

Solidarity with Whistleblowers

Whistleblowing is about protecting #HumanRights On #WorldWhistleblowersDay we would like to express our thanks and solidarity to all whistleblowers for their courage in standing up to challenge injustices.

The OECD have said that Ireland’s Protected Disclosures Act 2014 provides the strongest protections in Europe for whistleblowers in the workplace. 

The Republic was long overdue proper legislation in this area, but the events surrounding the treatment of Sgt Maurice McCabe and other whistleblowers was the impetus that drove Brendan Howlin to introduce the Protected Disclosures Act in 2014.

The Act gives protection for workers who are threatened with or suffer detriment at the hands of, their employers for “whistleblowing” in accordance with the provisions of the legislation.

This brief FAQ gives a broad overview of the fundamental provisions but should not be relied upon as a legal guide as there are extensive and complex provisions within the Act.

As with all employment legislation, SIPTU members can seek individual advice and assistance through the Workers’ Rights Centre (1890-747881).

How is a worker defined for the purposes of the Act? 

The definition is the widest so far in employment legislation and there are four main groups that come under the legislation:

  • Employees
  • Contractors
  • Agency Workers
  • People gaining work experience.

Importantly, the 12-month service requirement under the Unfair Dismissals Acts will not apply and therefore protection will be from day one of employment.

What type of matters would fall under protected disclosures? 

  • The commission of a criminal offence
  • Failure to comply with a legal obligation
  • Miscarriages of justice
  • Threat to health and safety
  • Damage to the environment
  • Misuse of public funds
  • Public mismanagement/maladministration

What is the process for making the disclosure?

In order to enjoy the protections under the Act, the worker must have a reasonable belief in the allegations made and he/she must go through the prescribed channels, which means a worker may communicate his/her disclosure to:

  • An employer (an internal disclosure).
  • A legal advisor in the course of obtaining legal advice (a legal advisor includes a barrister, solicitor or trade union official for the purposes of this legislation)
  • Externally to a regulatory body (these will be set out shortly)
  • Externally to a Government Minister (in the case of a worker in a State body)
  • Externally to others (e.g. media or a member of the house of the Oireachtas).

Note: Stronger qualifying criteria must be met for external disclosure.

The disclosure must not be for personal gain, there must be a reasonable belief that victimisation will ensue and the worker reasonably believed that the employer would either conceal or destroy the evidence or in the alternative, the matter was raised with the employer and no action was taken.

What protections are there for the worker? 

If it is a protected disclosure the employer cannot penalise or threaten to penalise an employee and there is immunity from civil liability i.e. the whistleblower cannot be sued for defamation if the subject matter qualifies as a protected disclosure. The protections in the legislation will not apply to false disclosures deliberately made.

If a contravention of the prohibition on penalisation is alleged then the employee can bring his/her claim to a Rights Commissioner, the Labour Court or the Circuit Court (see below).

What are the specific protections relating to Unfair Dismissals? 

Significantly, and for the first time in Irish employment law, an employee can apply to the Circuit Court for a statutory injunction within 21 days of the dismissal, seeking reinstatement/re-engagement, as determined by the court in accordance with the specific provisions laid down in the Act.

Trade unions at the time lobbied strongly for this form of interim relief.

The cap of two years’ salary as compensation under the Unfair Dismissals Acts is increased to a maximum of five years and the protections for the employee are put in place from day one of the employment, i.e. there is no minimum service requirement.

10/06/2021 Comments are off AideenC

SIPTU members: Vaccination update

SIPTU Health representatives attended a meeting with national vaccination team this afternoon (Wednesday, 9th June)
The following update was received: 

  • The HSE confirmed their email communication system remains severely disrupted following the recent cyber-attack.
  • The HSE stated it is currently finalising the process of reducing the period for dose 2 AstraZeneca from 12 weeks to 8 weeks. This will be developed over the next 3 weeks. Approx. 360k appointments will have to be brought forward as a result of the change in sequencing.
  • For next week, the HSE stated its intent to vaccinate 140k Pfizer Dose 2, 100k AstraZeneca Dose 2 & 80k (mainly) Pfizer Dose 1. The HSE expects the next 3 weeks to be particularly busy.
  • GP’s are expected to continue vaccinating Cohort 4 & 7 within their practice.
  • The HSE advised supply of AstraZeneca is good for this week and next week. A delivery of 130K is expected by week of 21st June.
  • For next week, Pfizer reserves will be used (approx. 40k). The HSE advised two large deliveries of Pfizer are due by the end of the month to replenish stocks.
  • The HSE confirmed NIAC has been advised of recent HCW concerns re Dose 2 AstraZeneca. Unions were advised updated guidance is expected shortly and will be distributed on receipt.
  • Unions and the HSE agreed to meet again next Wednesday for a further update.
04/06/2021 Comments are off AideenC

Have your say. IARC elections

SIPTU Ambulance Sector members are in the process of electing Irish Ambulance Represent Council (IARC) representatives in the following areas: 

  • Midlands
  • North East
  • South East
  • North West

SIPTU will write to members in these areas informing them of the candidates and the closing date for returning their ballot papers from Wednesday 8th June.  

We are encouraging all members in these areas need to ensure their home address is up to date with SIPTU so they can receive their postal ballot. Due to Covid-19 ballots will be conducted by postal ballot.

Members can update their details online here

02/06/2021 Comments are off AideenC

SIPTU members update – Vaccination Rollout

SIPTU Health representatives attended a meeting with national vaccination team this afternoon (Wednesday, 2nd June)
The following update was received:

  • HSE representatives advised the challenges from the recent cyber-attack remain and that inter-department communication within the health service remains a challenge. SIPTU representatives were advised it may take some time for systems to be returned to pre-attack norms.
  • Unions raised recent concerns regarding the vaccination of health care workers (HCWs) given the plan to proceed with 2nd dose of AstraZeneca.
  • Union representatives were advised the current guidance from NIAC has not changed and HCWs are recommended to take their 2nd dose of AstraZeneca vaccine when called. It was confirmed the recent concerns raised are with NIAC for review and response. The HSE confirmed every effort will be made to assure HCWs on the safety of taking the vaccine being offered to them.
  • Union representatives were advised the immediate focus is to complete the second dose vaccination of HCWs over the coming days and weekend.
  • Concerns were raised if all vaccination centres have been advised of the reduction in the dose period from 16-12 weeks. The HSE confirmed this clarification will be advised to all sites.
  • Unions raised the issue of new employees registering for vaccination given the ‘special email addresses’ set out by each area are compromised by the cyber-attack. The HSE confirmed it is looking at alternatives and will confirm when finalised.
  • Unions were advised the centres are completing the over 50’s currently and then start the 49-45 category. 44-40 are allowed to register on the portal from this week.
  • Unions asked for clarification when the recent decision of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), for children aged 15-12 to be vaccinated with Pfizer, will be implemented in Ireland and if this will require a reshuffle of Cohorts 4 & 7 (Medical vulnerable) to accommodate children comprehended by this definition. The HSE advised it is seeking guidance on the matter and will revert on this matter

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