Patrick Cole

30/03/2020 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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SIPTU calls on Section 39 organisations to honour workers hours and wages

SIPTU Health representatives have today (Monday, 30th March) called on Section 39 Home Care organisations to continue to pay the wages of carers and home helps in the event of client cancellations during the Covid-19 crisis.

SIPTU Organiser, Aideen Carberry, said: “This is a tough and anxious time for all health workers. When our members cannot be sure of what their earnings will be in a given week, it adds an additional strain to workers who are providing a vital service to the elderly in our community at a time of crisis.

“SIPTU members are reporting that due to cancellation of some services by clients who are self-isolating due to the Covid-19 crisis, members are being left short of hours. While some organisations are claiming there is enough alternative work for carers in the event of cancellations, this is not happening in all areas.”

She added: “We are calling on all Section 39 employers, including Terenure Home Care Service, Crumlin Home Care Service, Dublin West Home Help Company and Fingal Home Care Limited to honour our members’ wages and allow them to concentrate on providing essential care.”

29/03/2020 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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Sunday Video: Keep Safe. Keep well. Thank you for your service

Defeating the Covid-19 virus will require a huge effort from workers, across the public and private sectors, to ensure that the health service operates to its maximum in the defence of our citizens and communities.

This week, SIPTU representatives raised members concerns over the availability of Personal Protective Equipment for all health staff, adequate childcare arrangements for workers and we called on the Government to urgently review its approach to testing all health workers for COVID-19 regularly.

SIPTU Health representatives also confirmed that members will not be financially disadvantaged if interim rosters are introduced for the duration of COVID-19.

If we are to learn from the experiences of other countries which have successfully combatted the coronavirus surge in hospitals it must be to ensure the health and safety of all workers caring for COVID-19 patients.

Getting these critical elements of COVID-19 control right can only help public health officials bring this public health emergency to an earlier end.

Keep safe. Keep well and thank you for your service to our country.

26/03/2020 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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COVID-19 Advice for SIPTU Health members

COVID-19 is a new disease in the human population and the national and international situation is dynamic and evolving. To assist SIPTU Health members during this time of crisis a new information line and email address has been set up. Details below.

The HSE has developed a Frequently Asked Questions sheet that will be updated regularly.

You can also read the National Action Plan on Coronavirus here

CONCERNED ABOUT YOUR HEALTH?

ADVICE TO HEALTH WORKERS

All of us in SIPTU and across the nation are hugely grateful to the large number of health staff, of all grades, whose job might put them in contact with people who have the coronavirus. This advice is based on HSE occupational health guidelines.

REPORTING FOR WORK

Reporting for work: General

SIPTU Health continues to advise members to report for work as normal unless:

  • You have been told not to attend work by your manager or HR department
  • Remote working arrangements have been put in place, and you have been told to work at home by your manager or HR department
  • You have a medical reason for not attending work
  • You are self-isolating on medical or HSE advice.

SIPTU Health members who are not attending work for approved coronavirus-related reasons – or on medical advice – will receive basic pay including fixed allowances from day one. Coronavirus-related sick leave will not be counted as part of the employee’s sick leave record, so long as they have medical or HSE confirmation of the need to self-isolate. But you must follow the guidelines published by the HSE which are available HERE.

If you have followed SIPTU/DPER advice and still encounter problems with your line manager or HR department, you should contact the union in the message box at the end of this page.

Current recommendations for the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the management of suspected or confirmed COVID-19 are available HERE

HSE Memo re Redeployment Policy. HR Circular 15/2020

All traditional regular and rostered earnings must be considered if a review of rosters is being undertaken due to COVID-19. This review must take into account all regular earnings including on-call and overtime. The period for review is 6 weeks prior to the 20th March 2020 (date of introduction of the policy) and this can be adjusted if the employee was on sick leave or annual leave in order to get a true value of regular rostered earnings.

The clause is essential to ensure our members are not financially disadvantaged if interim rosters are introduced for the duration of COVID-19.

Reporting for work: self-isolating

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) issued new advice, on Monday 16th March, on what employees should do if they have to go into self-quarantine or self-isolation as a result of the Covid-19 virus. You can read a FAQ document HERE

UPDATED: Reporting for work: Pregnant women reporting for work

The HSE has advised pregnant women to take extra care. If you are pregnant and concerned about attending work, you should phone your doctor for medical advice before attending work. Please don’t attend the doctor’s surgery unless specifically advised to do so.

You should also advise your line manager or HR department that you are doing this. The most recent official guidelines include advice on contacting work when seeking medical advice, which is available HERE. Note that agreed HSE guidelines say pregnant staff will be transferred to non-contact roles.

Current HSE occupational health advice says management has a responsibility to redeploy pregnant staff from direct contact with people with confirmed or suspected cases of Covid-19 if requested. The same advice says pregnant staff who have said they want to be redeployed cannot be rostered to work with coronavirus patients.

 

Reporting for work: ‘Vulnerable groups’

If you are in vulnerable group (ie, if you are over 60 or have a long-term medical condition like heart disease, lung disease, diabetes, cancer or high blood pressure), you should phone your doctor for medical advice before attending work. Please don’t attend the doctor’s surgery unless specifically advised to do so.

You should also advise your line manager or HR department that you are doing this. The most recent official guidelines include advice on contacting work when seeking medical advice, which is available HERE.

Reporting for work: Staff recently returned from abroad

Staff who have recently returned from abroad – particularly from restricted areas as defined by the Department of Foreign Affairs, should follow HSE guidelines and/or seek medical advice.

You should also advise your line manager or HR department that you are doing this. The most recent official guidelines include advice on contacting work when seeking medical advice, which is available HERE.

Reporting for work: Members who’ve recently recovered from a critical illness

If you’ve recently recovered from a critical illness, have recently been signed fit for work, but are concerned that you might be particularly vulnerable to the virus, you should phone your doctor for medical advice before attending work. Please don’t attend the doctor’s surgery unless specifically advised to do so.

You should also advise your line manager or HR department that you are doing this. The most recent official guidelines include advice on contacting work when seeking medical advice, which is available HERE.

Reporting for work: Childcare difficulties

You will not automatically be paid if you are absent for work because of childcare difficulties arising from school or crèche closures. However, DPER has called on managers and employees to be flexible in such circumstances, and has advised public service employers to support staff experiencing childcare problems including by enabling home working or introducing flexible shifts, staggered shifts, longer opening hours or weekend working. You can read more HERE.

If you encounter problems with your employer

If you have followed SIPTU Health/DPER advice and still encounter problems with your line manager or HR department, you should contact the union.

Members are strongly advised to co-operate with management in its efforts to contain the Covid-19 coronavirus, protect the health and safety of citizens and workers, and maintain essential services – including when this means doing different things, in different ways, at different times.

Guidance issued by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, which is available HERE, says staff redeployment across the civil and public services could be required to ensure the maintenance of essential services. It also called for the reassignment of staff within organisations to prioritise the most critical services.

The union is in constant liaison with management to ensure that appropriate protective and containment measures are in place.

If you have genuine concerns about the health and safety of yourself or others, or if you genuinely believe that collective agreements are being seriously breached without union consultation, you should contact the union

PROTECTIONS FOR PUBLIC SERVANTS WHO SELF-ISOLATE OR CONTRACT COVID-19

SIPTU Health members who contract the Covid-19 virus, or who are advised to self-isolate by a medical practitioner, will receive basic pay including fixed allowances from day one. Coronavirus-related sick leave will not be counted as part of the employee’s sick leave record, so long as they have medical or HSE confirmation of the need to self-isolate.

SIPTU HEALTH: HERE TO SUPPORT YOU

SIPTU Health is here to protect you if you have problems arising from the coronavirus or other workplace issues.

The best way to contact the union at this time is on our new information line 01-858 3699, by emailing covid19info@siptuhealth.ie or by filling in the box below.

SIPTU expresses concern over rising number of health workers testing positive for COVID-19

SIPTU Health representatives have today (Wednesday, 25th March) expressed concerns over the increase in the number of health workers who have tested positive for COVID-19 virus. The numbers confirmed by the Department of Health indicate that health care workers make up 26% of all cases identified in the State.

SIPTU Divisional Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “The official figures show that health care workers make up 26% of all COVID-19 cases so far identified by public health officials. 63% of these cases were not travel related and the median age is 45 years old for those infected. SIPTU members have said that the numbers are related to the availability of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). Our members are reporting that PPE is not readily available to all health workers in the quantities required. This issue must be given high priority as some hospital departments are now telling SIPTU representatives that stock rooms have no PPE left and health workers are resorting to re-using equipment normally only fit for single use. This situation is entirely unacceptable.”

Paul Bell also called on the Government to urgently review its approach to testing all health workers for COVID-19 regularly.

“While we are not being critical of the Government’s efforts to lead the country through this crisis we must express the deep concerns of our members. If we are to learn from the experiences of other countries which have successfully combatted the coronavirus surge in hospitals it must be to ensure the health and safety of all workers caring for COVID-19 patients.

“In other health services such as those in South Korea and Hong Kong, the coronavirus has been more effectively contained with the frequent testing of all health workers through a dedicated monitoring system. This can ensure that the virus does not spread more widely and that the maximum number of health workers are available for duty 100% of the time.”

He added: “Getting these critical elements of COVID-19 control right can only help public health officials bring this public health emergency to an earlier end.”

21/03/2020 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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Thank you to all our #FrontlineHeroes

The spread of the COVID-19 virus has created profound uncertainty over the health and financial security of working people and their families across the island. Our members are deeply concerned with the effects of this crisis on their jobs and families.

We want you to know that your Union is in your corner and that we will stand with you through all challenges that will emerge over the coming weeks and months.

This national emergency we are all facing requires all our efforts and team work to ensure that our health service operates to its maximum in the defence of our citizens and communities.

During this emergency, the principles of social justice and solidarity, upon which this Union is founded, must be applied if we are to ensure that our society overcomes, and recovers from, this unprecedented public health crisis.

Our members, working in health, deliver quality services and provide vital expertise across all grades. In these challenging times, our members are demonstrating tremendous courage and determination in service of our country. Our 42,000 health service members, in all grades, are the frontline defence of our nation’s health and are caring for the most vulnerable in our society who need of our support, assurance and care.

You are our #FrontLineHeroes

Regular communication and accurate information is crucial in any crisis to support our members. SIPTU Health Division has set up a new information line to deal with any specific COVID-19 workplace queries.

Our SIPTU Health Division App will also be regularly updated. We would encourage you to download it today.

The COVID-19 outbreak will test each and every one of us, but we are confident that by working together and supporting each other, we can beat this.

17/03/2020 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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St Patrick’s Day Message from President Michael D. Higgins

“May I, on this St. Patrick’s Day 2020, send my warmest greetings as Uachtarán na hÉireann, President of Ireland, to all our extended family across the world and indeed to all those interested in matters Irish.

Wherever you may be, and in whatever circumstances, as part of Ireland’s global family you will be joining with us as we celebrate the feast day of our patron saint, and the culture ancient and contemporary, the heritage and history that connects us.

The 17th of March is a day when we recall the life of St. Patrick, his transformative spirit, and the enormous legacy he has left behind as exile, migrant and apostle. Today, as the world faces the global spread of the coronavirus we are called more than ever to follow the values embodied in the story of St. Patrick.

Those values of solidarity and concern for the well-being of our fellow citizens will play a fundamental role in our effective confronting of the challenge with which we are now presented. It is a challenge that calls on the tradition and practice of our communities working together, recognising the needs of all their members, and in particular those who are most vulnerable.

So often, as President of Ireland, I have been inspired and uplifted by the generous spirit of unity that I have witnessed in communities across the country. I have seen so many examples of care and compassion where communities have come together to look after their elderly and sick, and to ensure the welfare of those who are vulnerable and marginalised.

That spirit, I have no doubt, will come very much to the fore during this difficult time, which will require generous and compassionate citizenship as we work to keep all members of our community safe. We must remember, of course, that we are also citizens of a wider global community. St Patrick’s Day has become a profound expression of a common history that extends far beyond Irish shores, and of the strong bonds we share with our wider global family despite the miles, borders and oceans that may separate us.

As members of that global community we must commit to working in a spirit of solidarity and co-operation, joining with citizens across the world in fighting this global health emergency. On this day when we celebrate the feast of our patron saint, Patrick, let us draw on the best of our Irishness in order to create a safer future for ourselves and all those who live on our shared, vulnerable, planet.

On behalf of the people of Ireland, I extend a hand of friendship across the globe to all those who are Irish by birth, descent or association, and to all those who have assisted our Irish people, or who simply have an interest in things Irish. I wish you, and all those who form part of the Irish family, a happy and peaceful St. Patrick’s Day.”

 

15/03/2020 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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Together, we will beat this

The outbreak of COVID-19 is hitting workers and communities hard across Europe. Stories and tweets from health workers under siege in the overwhelmed hospitals of Northern Italy are distressing for us all.

Across the world, Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds are filling up, medical equipment, devices and supplies and personal protective equipment are being stretched. Ambulance professionals, firefighters, workers in the services industries including retail workers, public transport and aviation workers, and home care workers, are all doing jobs that bring them into constant contact with the public, making them, and those around them, more vulnerable.

For most, it is simply not an option to work from home as they are keeping our productions, services and supply chains going and our country moving.

Tens of thousands of SIPTU members in the private sector and public service are working during this unprecedented and evolving public health crisis. Our members, from the frontlines of our public services to factory floors making our food and keeping food supplies going, are pulling together and showing real leadership during these extremely challenging times.

SIPTU members are manufacturing critical medical devices that are saving lives every day. One out of every two ventilators are made right here in Ireland. Our members working in the pharmaceutical sector are manufacturing the prescription drugs and over the counter medications for millions of people the world over.

As a union, SIPTU is working to ensure that the necessary steps to protect workers, communities and families are taken and this crisis is not used to erode workers’ rights.

We will continue to work to ensure that essential services are maintained while the schools, colleges, creches and other public institutions are closed, and that the redeployment of public service staff prioritises the most critical frontline services. We have stressed the need for sustainable childcare support and facilities to make sure that our members can continue to lead our collective efforts to battle the coronavirus and restore our nation’s health.

Many workers in the private sector, including retail, hospitality, construction, manufacturing, arts and culture, and other services are facing uncertainty if they contract, or come in to contact, with the virus, as many employers do pay sick pay.

In response to trade union campaigning, the Government announced a new COVID-19 related Illness Benefit at a higher rate of €305 per week, to be paid from day one for workers. While this was welcomed, private sector workers and workers who are releant on social welfare benefits at this time will struggle to pay bills, rent and mortgages.

Creches, colleges and other workplaces may re-open on the 29th March but it is possible that the period of closure will extend further. However, what we do collectively over the coming weeks will play a huge part in how we as a community get through this crisis.

SIPTU members are encouraged to continue to play their part in containing the disease by accessing and following reliable up-to-date information, washing hands properly and frequently, maintaining social distancing and self-isolating, if required.

While taking all the necessary measures required by public health authorities to deal with the COVID-19 emergency, SIPTU will remain fully operational in order to represent your interests and to provide you with the full range of organisational supports.

The Workers’ Rights Centre and its Lo-Call helpline (1890 747 881) will continue to operate and to provide support to members.

A dedicated help line and email for SIPTU Health Division members will be available from Monday 16th March. Details will be posted on social media.

The outbreak of COVID-19 shines a light on how interconnected humanity really is. And while, when all this is said and done, some will demand stricter border controls and use this crisis to stoke the fires of xenophobia what this crisis really show us is that Europe and the world needs more co-operation and solidarity not isolation and scapegoating.

Together, we are stronger and together we will beat this.

14/03/2020 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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COVID-19 notice to SIPTU Health members

While taking all the necessary measures required by public health authorities to deal with the COVID-19 emergency, your Union remains fully operational in order to represent your interests and to provide you with the full range of organisational supports.

SIPTU Health Industrial Organisers and staff will be available to members and can be reached through existing telephone and email contacts. SIPTU offices, including Liberty Hall, will remain open although meetings should be arranged by appointment.

The Workers Rights Centre and its Lo-Call helpline (1890 747 881) will continue to operate and to provide support to members.

We would like to express our appreciation for your co-operation during this time of emergency and to ask you to adhere to the health and safety advice of the Health Service Executive and other properly informed agencies.

A further communication to members, shop stewards and activists will be issued in the coming days.

 

13/03/2020 Comments are off Patrick Cole
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Advanced paramedic on collecting samples for Covid-19 tests

THE decision to use the ambulance service to collect samples from households around the country in a bid to combat the spread of Covid-19 is unprecedented, according to advanced paramedic Richard Quinlan, chief ambulance officer for the North Leinster region, who has paid tribute to the outstanding work being undertaken by frontline health service staff in the battle to contain the coronavirus outbreak.

Read full article here