Patrick Cole

13/06/2019 Comments are off Patrick Cole

Update: WRC Mental Health Nursing (Enhanced Nurse Contract Talks)

This is an important update regarding the proposed introduction of the Enhanced Nurse role within Mental Health services and related issues.

SIPTU representatives returned to the Workplace Relations Commission on Thursday, 13th June regarding these matters. The employer was represented by HSE, Dept of Health and Dept of Public Expenditure & Reform officials. Within conciliation, the following issues were discussed:

  • Proposed Contract of Employment for Enhanced Nursing within Mental Health Services: this matter has been advanced but is not yet concluded to our satisfaction. Parties are continuing efforts to develop a draft of a contract which is acceptable to all sides.
  • Subsidiary issues relating to the proposed introduction of Enhanced Nursing within Mental Health Services: there are a few pay related issues which remain outstanding concerning the proposed introduction of enhanced nursing within mental health services. Further effort is committed to resolving these issues as part of the package of measures to be offered.
  • Employer FAQ relating to Proposed Contract of Employment for Enhanced Nursing: employers representatives informed SIPTU they were preparing an explanatory faq document to undermine the specific requirements for those undertaking the proposed enhanced nurse role. We understand this includes specific reference to the required amount of flexibility re location and rostering. SIPTU has demanded sight of this document in advance of any member being requested to consider the proposed contract for enhanced nursing. SIPTU has confirmed to the employer that no nurse or midwife should be asked to consider a contract of employment while the employer is withholding significant documentation such as their explanatory document outlining required flexibility.
  • Proposed Terms of Reference (Expert Review): SIPTU has demanded receipt of the proposed Terms of Reference for the recommended Expert Review of Nursing/Midwifery grades. This review was proposed within the recent Labour Court recommendations and will seek to examine detailed aspects of the nursing/midwifery workforce including grading.
  • Nurse Management Structures – Mental Health (Area Directors of Nursing): Parties have agreed to prioritise the examination of existing nurse management structures within mental health. The commitment is to restart this process imminently and conclude same by the 1st November 2019. This examination will include a mechanism to address the long standing grading issue for Area Directors of Nursing. SIPTU confirmed to the Commission the deep frustration of our members and the need for an accelerated process to conclude this outstanding claim as one of priority.
  • Advanced Nurse Practitioners – Mental Health: employer representatives confirmed the target of 2% (of the workforce) for appointment of advanced nurse practitioners will apply within mental health. This is consistent with the previous recommendation of the Labour Court and the target which will apply in the other sectors of the profession.
  • Current Contracts v Enhanced Nursing: employers confirmed their intent that no enhanced incremental advancement will apply to current eligible nurses who remain on existing contract.

Please note the Workplace Relations Commission adjourned conciliation last evening and has invited parties to return on Friday, 28th June 2019 to advance all matters referred to above.

SIPTU has accepted this invitation. Further updates will issue as issues develop and negotiations advance. If you have queries relating to any matters arising, please contact your local SIPTU Organiser for guidance.

13/06/2019 Comments are off Patrick Cole

SIPTU to enter WRC talks in health dispute

SIPTU Health representatives have accepted an invitation to attend exploratory talks at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) today (Thursday, 13th June) at 2.30pm to discuss the dispute on job evaluation.

The dispute has led to the scheduled strike action of 10,000 health workers, which is due to commence on Thursday, 20th June.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said; “We have accepted the invitation from the WRC to attend the talks. We will use these talks as an opportunity to restate our members’ position that the Government must make every effort to resolve this dispute. Failure to resolve this dispute will undoubtedly bring pressures on the delivery of health services.”


09/06/2019 Comments are off Patrick Cole

Where SIPTU is making the games people play now

Few SIPTU Health members may realise that if you are playing Monopoly, Trivial Pursuit, Guess Who, Connect 4, Battleships, Cluedo, Top Trumps, 30 Seconds or Sequence there is a very strong possibility that they were produced by fellow SIPTU members in the Cartamundi Ireland Ltd in Waterford City.

These are just some of the products produced at Europe’s largest games manufacturing facility in the Cartamundi Group. The Waterford plant opened in 1977 and since then it has produced tens of millions of board games.

Initially, the plant was run by Hasbro but since 2015 it has been part of the Belgian family-owned Cartamundi Group.

SIPTU Chief Shop Steward Tom ‘Tucker’ Healy, said: “The company believes in excellence through investment in its people. Such an approach works well with the aims of the trade union to see workers leading fulfilling working lives with good conditions and wages that can support a family life.”

Such an approach has resulted in many of its approximately 280 full-time SIPTU members remaining at the plant for decades. Tom has been employed in the plant since 1987 while his fellow shop steward, Bridget Burrows, has 32 years of service.

“When I started working here I didn’t think I would be here for that length of time. However, I work with a great team of people. This plant has allowed me to rear my daughter and send her to university, so it’s also been a rewarding place to work.”

The workforce is mainly drawn from the local Waterford area, with some travelling from south Tipperary and south Kilkenny.

The plant also has a strong tradition of family members working together. Shop Steward, Jane Millea, has worked at Cartamundi for 18 years, her brother also works in the plant and her mother is a former employee. “It’s that sort of place,” she said. “People work here and are happy with it so family members are also interested in getting a job.”

Recent years have provided challenges for the company, with some games production lost to lower cost plants in China and the growth of video games. Tom points out that despite this the plant has weathered the storm. He said: “The plant underwent a restructuring prior to the last recession and even with the rise in popularity of game consoles it has maintained a healthy production schedule with more than 16 million games produced last year.”

With the agreement of the unions, management at the plant has also brought in imaginative initiatives such as whiteboards at each production line for workers to note down their thoughts on improvements. There is also a star reward system by which the production manager rewards staff with tokens for innovation. These can then be used to claim rewards including Cartamundi branded merchandise.

“It’s a system which works well with people pleased to see that their input into the production process is being recognised,” said Tom.

The plant is also a place where many young people get their first experience of being part of the union with the workforce increasing by up to 200 workers during peak production periods. Each of these workers joins SIPTU, even if only for a few months.

General Manager, Barry Morrissey, said: “Cartamundi Ireland are very proud to be part of the Supporting Quality initiative. It is important to us, as an Irish manufacturing company, to our employees, our local community and our customers, to continue to produce quality products here in Waterford.”


08/06/2019 Comments are off Patrick Cole

Podcast: SIPTU members speak out on Job Evaluation strike

This morning SIPTU members Natasha Linehan and Ann Marie Tibby joined SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell on Newstalk with Susan Keogh to discuss why 10,000 SIPTU Health members are taking action.

Listen back here

05/06/2019 Comments are off Patrick Cole

SIPTU serves notice of strike action by 10,000 health workers in job evaluation dispute

SIPTU members working as support staff and chefs in 38 hospitals and health care facilities have today (Wednesday, 5th June) served notice of a 24 hour work stoppage on Thursday, 20th June, in a dispute concerning the failure to implement pay increases arising from an agreed job evaluation scheme.

The initial action, will involve up to 10,000 SIPTU members providing portering, household and catering services and employed as Health Care Assistants, Maternity Care Assistants, Laboratory Aides, Chefs and Surgical Instrument Technicians.

SIPTU Deputy General Secretary for the Public Sector, John King, said: “It is time for the Minister for Health, Simon Harris and the Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, to step in and resolve this dispute. Failure to do this will undoubtedly bring pressures on the delivery of health services.

“Our members accepted the provisions of all the public service agreements since 2010. The Government must now honour its obligations contained within these agreements. It is time to deliver for these workers.  It is unacceptable that workers should be forced to go into an official dispute in order to get what they are owed.”

He added: “SIPTU representatives remain available for talks but such an engagement must be about the practical implementation of these outstanding awards for our members.”

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “SIPTU representatives hoped that this day would never come and that the HSE, Department of Health and Department of Public Expenditure and Reform would see sense, and honour our members’ job evaluation process.

“Members employed in chef grades are also taking action. They co-operated with an independent review process of their pay relationship with similar grades in the public health service and in recent weeks have had their hopes of achieving pay justice dashed.”

He added: “The ball is now in the court of the Government. The Minister for Finance, Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, has a small three week window to resolve this dispute or face the consequences. Our members voted overwhelmingly by 95% in favour of taking strike action. They will not back down until they win this campaign for pay justice.”

03/06/2019 Comments are off Patrick Cole

EPSU delegates fighting for a fair future for all

Dublin is to play host to over 550 trade unionists from across Europe for the 10th Congress of the European Public Services Union (EPSU) from tomorrow (4th June)

Over the course a four day conference in the RDS, delegates will set out, discuss and put in place a programme of action for a fair future.

Held every five years, this year’s Congress will focus on the need for trade unions to embrace digitalisation, to continue to fight privatisation and to work in more collaborative ways to build solidarity and union power.

President of Ireland Michael D. Higgins and new Deputy General Secretary of the European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC), Esther Lynch will address Congress on Tuesday.

Speaking ahead of the conference in Dublin, EPSU Communications and Campaigns Officer, Pablo Sánchez Centellas said: “Digitalisation has the potential to positively transform public services and the jobs of public service workers. Quicker and easier access to services and increased participation of citizens can be combined with better quality jobs as repetitive work is replaced with more fulfilling tasks.

“New technology needs to be under democratic control. We have seen the impact on society on privatisation and PPPs. We need a societal control of our future.

“Another major topic is the fight for public ownership,” he added.

EPSU’s General Secretary, Jan Willem Goudriaan said: “We are fighting for a future for all. Public service unions are at the forefront to ensure a more democratic society, a society that cares for all. A precondition is more democracy at our workplaces, strong collective bargaining and qualified and decently paid public service workers.

“Our Congress will discuss how we grow the power of unions to give all workers in Europe a voice on the decisions that matter to us, our families and our communities.”

01/06/2019 Comments are off Patrick Cole

Football against the developers

Dublin city has long traded off the folklore myth of ‘street football’. The phrase used to conjure up images of John Giles weaving in and out of the fruit market, ball at his feet, as he takes his first steps towards infamy.

But the same inner-city square where Giles learned his trade now boasts a ‘No Football Here’ warning. It’s hard to have things both ways. Football in Dublin city has a paradoxical life.

While pubs throughout the city and suburbs pack out for Sky TV Manchester United v Liverpool encounters the cities own top flight clubs have spent decades just trying to stay alive. At the time of writing, though, the cities two old rivals Shamrock Rovers and Bohemians occupy the two of the top three positions in the league table and both are seeing a surge in crowds – Bohs putting up the ‘sold out’ signs at each home game this season.

The tacky non-culture of the Celtic Tiger generation, brought up to strive for weekend shopping trips to New York and Saturday’s spent consuming the English Premier League, is slowly ebbing away.

Something is happening in the city. In his review of Dublin band Fontaines DC debut album Dogrel for the Irish Times, music journalist Eamon Sweeney was brought to comment on the atmosphere of the moment.

“The stark reality is that the Fontaines DC generation are adrift in a hyper-capitalist playground of extortionate rents and shameful levels of homelessness, and governed by a political elite who are chronically addicted to optics and spin. Dogrel taps into Dublin’s rich humour and character. It is a cracking debut that attempts to reclaim the city’s soul,” Sweeney wrote.

Just across the Liffey from John Giles birthplace in Ormond Square another group is engaging in that same battle for the city’s soul. Pitting those who believe the ‘street football’ ethos should be nourished and used as a rallying cry to how we use our inner city green and grey public spaces and a property development consortium which reigned supreme during the Celtic Tiger years of ego fuelled building.

In the heart of Dublin’s Liberties district, nestled between flats adorned with the names of martyrs of 1916 and the Vicar Street music venue, lies an open space that has been let go to rot but remains an area utilised by local kids and footballers playing pick-up games.

Now though it looks set to become yet another hotel, in a city unable to offer any solution to the spiralling housing crisis.

While locals and progressive TDs are leading the fight for the future of their area a Sunday afternoon football collective ‘1815 FC’, which has been playing regularly on the Vicar Street site, have chosen to take a stand.

One of the collective’s founders, Gav Fahy, outlined how they came together in the first place. “The club came from the love of the beautiful game, the culture that surrounds it and a desire to play it on our own terms. We play on one of 16 free available public street football pitches between Dublin’s canals every second Sunday.

Through Sunday Football, 1815 F.C. has grown into a community of friends and footballers of all ages and backgrounds. For us, it was important to get people out and into their public spaces,” Fahy told Liberty.

From speaking to Gav it was clear that the group fits into the narrative of young people no longer willing to be tied down by outdated bureaucracy of a city that caters for private interest first. “Dublin City Council make it very hard to utilize public space in the city. When we were making the map of available public pitches, not a single person who picked up the phone at Wood Quay (Dublin City Council Head Office) had a clue about any of the 16 pitches in the city, “ he said.

“From a year of playing across the city we’ve found most public space is built to keep ‘anti’ social behaviour out and in doing so detracts people from using them for social behaviour.”

As Euro 2020 comes into view and Dublin gears up to host group games at Lansdowne Road the cities ‘street football’ myth will once again be rolled out. By that time, a hotel will more than likely occupy the Vicar Street site.

22/05/2019 Comments are off Patrick Cole

SIPTU representatives secure funding to restore pay for thousands of Section 39 workers

SIPTU representatives have today (Wednesday 22nd May) confirmed that a process for restoring the pay of thousands of Section 39 workers has commenced in scores of health and social care facilities across the country.

The move comes following lengthy discussions under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) with the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive (HSE)

SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “The HSE have written directly to each of the fifty Section 39 organisation that were identified following the union’s campaign for pay justice, to commence the urgent implementation of pay restoration for Section 39 workers. This directive was accompanied with the provision of funding determined by the HSE for each Section 39 organisation on the basis of the data/information provided to them. The initial payment centres on an initial payment of €1000 as agreed and the effective date of payment remains 30th April 2019.”

He added: “Negotiations on the application of the WRC agreement negotiated in October 2018 on pay restoration for the remaining 250 Section 39 organisations will commence on Friday 19th July, 2019.”

A small number of Section 39 and Community Home Help organisations, which failed to submit a funding application to the HSE, will be addressed separately with management.

17/05/2019 Comments are off Patrick Cole

SIPTU members working as support staff vote for strike action

SIPTU members working as health service support staff have voted by 94% to 6% in favour of taking strike action in a dispute concerning the implementation of a job evaluation scheme.

The result of vote was announced today (Friday, 17th May) at a special conference on pay justice in Croke Park.

In a separate ballot, chefs working for the Health Service Executive (HSE) also voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action by a margin of 97% to 3% in favour.

SIPTU Deputy General Secretary for the Public Sector, John King, said: “The response from our members today is clear and emphatic. Our union is demanding meaningful engagement with Government on the resolution to this longstanding issue once and for all. Our members have played by the rules, and kept the health services going in recent times. They deserve to get the pay justice they have waited so patiently for.”

He added: “Our members have the full backing of our union on this as it was conceded as part of a previous national public sector agreement.”

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell said: “The size of the vote today in favour of strike action undoubtedly demonstrates our members’ anger with the Government due to their failure to give them the fair and equal treatment they demand. It is a fact that this vote was brought about by the failure by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe to honour the provisions included in the Lansdowne Road and Haddington Road agreements.”

He added: “It is never our members’ desire to engage in strike action, which will put additional pressures on the health service. However, after months of obstruction our members have been left with no option but to express themselves and their frustrations. The ball is now in the court of the Government and the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform. They can either pay our members what they are owed or face the consequences.”

The all-out strike involving over 17,000 health support staff workers will initially take place in 36 acute hospital facilities across the country.

The following is a list of the hospitals where SIPTU support staff members voted in favour of strike action:

  • Cork University Hospital
  • Cork University Maternity Hospital
  • Kerry University Hospital
  • Mallow General Hospital
  • South Infirmary Hospital Cork
  • South Tipperary General Hospital
  • Wexford General Hospital
  • St Lukes Hospital Carlow/Kilkenny
  • Mercy Hospital Cork
  • Connolly Hospital Blanchardstown
  • National Rehabilitation Hospital
  • Beaumont Hospital
  • St Ita’s Portrane
  • Mater Hospital
  • St James Hospital
  • St Vincent’s University Hospital
  • Tallaght Hospital
  • Our Lady’s Hospital Navan
  • Louth County Hospital
  • Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital Drogheda
  • Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital Crumlin
  • Rotunda Hospital
  • Central Mental Hospital
  • Midland Regional Hospital Mullingar
  • Midland Regional Hospital Tullamore
  • Midland Regional Hospital Portlaoise
  • Naas General Hospital
  • Cavan General Hospital
  • Letterkenny University Hospital
  • Sligo General Hospital
  • Roscommon Hospital
  • Portiuncula Hospital Ballinasloe
  • Galway University Hospital
  • Merlin Park
  • Mayo University Hospital
  • UL Hospital Dooradoyle
  • UL Maternity Hospital
  • UL Orthopedic Hospital Croom