Resounding majority of SIPTU members vote to support new Public Sector Pay Agreement

SIPTU members throughout the public service have voted by a resounding majority to accept the proposed new Public Sector Pay Agreement 2024 – 2026 in a ballot counted today (Thursday, 21st March) at centres in Dublin, Cork and Galway.

Speaking at the count centre in Liberty Hall in Dublin, SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, John King, said: “More than 90% of votes cast by our members were in favour of the proposed new Public Sector Pay Agreement. This agreement would signify a marked improvement in pay for public service workers, it also safeguards against job outsourcing and the privatisation of services.

“In addition, a clause within the deal provides a mechanism to address local claims and disputes within the public service. Our members have decided that the agreement goes someway to addressing the cost of living and inflation challenges facing them. It also provides for a degree of enhancement of their terms and conditions of employment.”

He added: “SIPTU representatives will present this mandate at the ICTU Public Services Committee meeting scheduled for Monday, 25th March. The rejection or acceptance of the agreement by members of ICTU-affiliated unions in the public service will be determined by the aggregating of the results of all the ballots conducted by the individual unions. This result is expected to be known next Monday.”

SIPTU calls for Community Nursing Unit in Nenagh to be used for original purpose

SIPTU members in St. Conlon’s Community Nursing Unit (CNU) in Nenagh, County Tipperary, have expressed deep concern at reports that a new building that was to cater for residents may instead be used as a step-down facility for University Hospital Limerick patients.

SIPTU Organiser, Mark Quinn, said: “Our members at St. Conlon’s CNU were preparing to move residents to the new state-of-the-art facility. However, they are concerned by media reports that the facility will now not be used for its original purpose but rather as a step-down facility for University Hospital Limerick patients. Their concern has been further heightened by suggestions that a private provider will manage the step-down facility.

“The reports that the newly built facility will not be used for its original purpose is also of grave concern to St. Conlon’s CNU residents and the wider community. The idea that a private company will provide services out of a state-of-the-art building, which has been built using significant state funding, is extraordinary.

“This is all the more disheartening when it is considered that the building project progressed following concerns raised by the Health Information and Quality Authority regarding St. Conlon’s CNU and its current suitability to adequately provide services for residents.”

He added: “SIPTU has raised its objections to this plan formally with the HSE and is awaiting a response. We have made our intention clear that we will use all options available to us as a Union to secure the best possible outcome for the staff of St. Conlon’s CNU, the residents that depend on its services and the broader community of Nenagh”.

Recruitment crisis in cancer services staff resulting in lifesaving machines lying idle

SIPTU representatives have highlighted that a lack of recruitment by the HSE of radiation therapists has resulted in lifesaving machines for treating cancer patients being left idle in hospitals in Dublin, Cork and Galway.

Speaking at the ‘Next Steps for Cancer Services in Ireland Seminar’ on Thursday (7th March) SIPTU National Radiation Therapist Executive member, Olivia Brereton, said that “the staffing crisis is having a devastating impact on our services”.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Mr John McCamley, said: “At least six machines are lying unused in services across the country including St. Luke’s Oncology Network in Dublin, Cork University Hospital, and Galway University Hospital. This is down to a lack of radiation therapists on staff to operate the machines.

“Every time a machine lies idle, it means someone’s access to cancer treatment is delayed. Under the National Cancer Strategy, the timeframe from cancer diagnosis to commencing treatment should be three weeks. Ireland is not currently meeting that target.”

He added: “As a union, SIPTU has highlighted the need to address the staffing crisis through the progression of the radiation therapy review, and a comprehensive strategy for retaining experienced staff. We also want to see an expansion of undergraduate and postgraduate places to increase recruitment of radiation therapists and support for students during clinical placement”.

Radiation therapy is a type of cancer treatment. This treatment uses beams of high-energy X-rays to kill cancer cells. Modern methods of radiation delivery require high accuracy. Radiation beams are directed at the tumours while healthy tissue is protected from high doses of radiation.