Patrick Cole

21/04/2019 Comments are off Patrick Cole

How 1916 changed the world

John Redmond, rallying Irish men to the British war effort, was thinking only in terms of the impact on Irish-British politics of such recruitment. He seems to have been entirely unaware that the first World War was a contest between empires for the control of resources, for the extension of imperial powers, and that he was recruiting Irish men to support and bolster imperial ambitions and greed.

Or perhaps he knew but didn’t think it was important. A similar charge, however, can be laid at the door of the IRB and the Irish Volunteers — they failed entirely to consider (and potentially profit from) the international context of the insurrection. Only James Connolly fully understood that Ireland’s struggle against Britain was a struggle against empire.

In the Workers’ Republic, on 8th April 1916, 16 days before the Rising, Connolly wrote:

The power which holds in subjection more of the world’s population than any other power on the globe, and holds them in subjection as slaves without any guarantee of freedom or power of self-government, this power that sets Catholic against Protestant, the Hindu against the Mohammedan, the yellow man against the brown, and keeps them quarrelling with each other whilst she robs and murders them all — this power appeals to Ireland to send her sons to fight under England’s banner for the cause of the oppressed. The power whose rule in Ireland has made of Ireland a desert, and made the history of our race read like the records of a shambles, as she plans for the annihilation of another race appeals to our manhood to fight for her because of our sympathy for the suffering, and of our hatred of oppression

Connolly’s point here was that Ireland was neither alone nor unique in suffering under empire, and by and large, until very recently, Irish commentators have failed to place Ireland’s struggle in this international context.

Paradoxically, all across the world, the Irish Rising, and subsequent War of Independence, had a galvanising and morale-building influence on contemporary and subsequent independence movements.

In an excellent article on this very subject Liam Ó Ruairc argues that: “The 1916 Easter Rising had a very significant impact and influence on antiimperialist movements worldwide, at the time particularly on those in India and Egypt.”

The British were well aware of the consequences of losing Ireland, consequences that were not always clear to most of those Irish fighting for independence. Ó Ruairc quotes Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Field-Marshal Sir Henry Wilson, saying on 30th March 1921: “If we lose Ireland we have lost the Empire.”

And, Sir Edward Carson: “If you tell your Empire in India, in Egypt, and all over the world that you have not got the men, the money, the pluck, the inclination and the backing to restore order in a country within 20 miles of your own shore, you may as well begin to abandon the attempt to make British rule prevail throughout the Empire at all.”

The fact is the Rising signalled, perhaps even began, the process of disintegration in the British empire — but this has not always been acknowledged in Ireland, and in certain sectors, I suspect, remains an unwelcome thought. There has always been a double pulse in Irish political life.

On the one hand we find a servile tendency on the part of political elites to seek the approval and patronage of larger powers, exemplified in the acceptance of direction from the ECB, for example, or the unwillingness to assert our sovereignty in the matter of US troop movements, and renditions, through Shannon.

On the other hand, there is a generous willingness on the part of non-State formations to identify with and support liberation movements, social and political, throughout the post-colonial world.

It would do us no harm at all to consider the international context and consequences of the Rising, and to ask ourselves where we place ourselves now in the ongoing contests between great powers and sovereign peoples.

19/04/2019 Comments are off Patrick Cole

SIPTU Nursing Midwifery – National Talks update

This is an important update for SIPTU members regarding recent national nursing talks.

Members will be aware the Labour Court has recently issued a second recommendation dealing exclusively with key issues of dispute with the proposed contract for Enhanced Nurse or Midwife within General/ID/Care of the Older Person.

This includes reference to Senior Staff Nurse/Midwife. This document is available here.

  • The recommendation from the Labour Court has provided alternative wording for the draft contract and other related claims such as: location, rosters, duties, qualifying criteria and effect on nurses or midwives who do not accept the new contract but who are a new entrant since 2011.
  • In addition, following issue of the Labour Court recommendation, the Department of Health has forwarded a revised draft contract for General/ID/Care of the Older Person. This document is available here.
  • The new draft contract provides the revised wording recommended by the Labour Court and expressly outlines the required level of flexibility on appointment re: Locations and Rosters. Please find a recent SIPTU update issued on this issue here.
  • Following receipt of the revised draft contract for Enhanced Nurse or Midwife, SIPTU has been advised by the Department of Health, an explanatory document is being prepared by employers to outline the various elements of the contract including the required level of flexibility regarding location and rosters expected of enhanced nurses or midwives.
  • As stated, the above-mentioned draft contract does not refer to Mental Health. Specific discussions regarding mental health services will continue over the coming weeks to advance all matters relating to a proposed contract for Enhanced Nursing within that service. We will seek to keep members appraised of developments.
  • The proposed contract for Enhanced Nurse or Midwife will only be an option for the grades of staff nurse/midwife or senior staff nurse/midwife. A template pay scale for the proposed Enhanced Nurse or Midwife & Senior Enhanced Nurse or Midwife is available overleaf.
  • Proposals outline all other nursing/midwifery grades will be subject to an Expert Review. The Terms of Reference, including timeframe, for this proposed review have not yet been completed. SIPTU is awaiting receipt of same.

In summary, SIPTU has committed to bring the full detail of proposals to our members for consideration following receipt of same. To date, we have received a draft contract for Enhanced Nurse or Midwife within General/ID/Care of the Older Person. We have not received the explanatory document from the employer which we believe is crucial for any nurse or midwife considering the merit of the proposed new contractSIPTU is also awaiting receipt of the Terms of Reference for the proposed Expert Review for promoted nurse and midwife grades.

Equally, it is essential that all negotiations are completed prior to SIPTU considering appropriate next steps including consultation with our membership.

This will require the completion of the outstanding process regarding Mental Health which remains underway.

Proposed Pay Scale & Pathway for Enhanced Nurse/Midwife (rates are as 01/04/2019)

Existing pay scale for Staff Nurse

  1. 29,346 (point 2 after 16 weeks)
  2. 31,110 (move to next point on annual increment date and each year thereafter. Existing point 2 will be skipped in future pay scales. Nurses or Midwives who do not undertake the Enhanced Nurse or Midwife role will proceed up this scale from point 3 after 16 weeks on point 1 above. Each increment will be applied annually as per existing practice.)
  3. 32,171
  4. 33,367
  5. 34,876
  6. 36,383
  7. 37,883
  8. 39,180
  9. 40,480
  10. 41,775
  11. 43,070
  12. 44,343
  13. 45,701 LSI

Proposed Pay Scale for Enhanced Nurse

  1. 29,346 (move to point 2 after 16 weeks)
  2. 32,171 (move to point 3 after 12 months)

Access to Enhanced Scale after 12 months on Point 2 subject to meeting Qualifying Criteria

  1. 35,806
  2. 38,062
  3. 39,265
  4. 40,191
  5. 41,212
  6. 42,570
  7. 43,893
  8. 45,841
  9. 47,201 LSI

ExistingSenior Staff Nurse Pay Scale

  1. 47,898

EnhancedSenior Staff Nurse Pay Scale (subject to meeting Qualifying Criteria) 

  1. 49,471

Access to Senior Staff Nurse grade is reduced from 20 years verifiable service to 17 years verifiable service as per recommendations of the Public Service Pay Commission published in 2018. Access to the Enhanced Senior Staff Nurse grade will be determined by meeting relevant qualifying criteria including: verifiable service and terms & conditions associated with the post.

Location & Qualification Allowances:

Current rates of the above allowances increased by 20% as per recommendations of the Public Service Pay Commission published in 2018. Extension for access to the allowances to include Maternity Services. Department of Health has advised SIPTU the proposed extension for access to these allowances to Medical/Surgical wards is subject to a total funding cap of €10million.

Existing rate of Specialist Qualification Allowance: 2,703

Proposed New rate of Specialist Qualification Allowance (subject to meeting criteria): €3,243.60

Existing rate of Location Allowance: €1,800

Proposed New rate of Location Allowance (subject to meeting criteria): €2,160

*Above mentioned allowances are as per qualifying criteria and rules for payment as set out within relevant Department of Health and Health Service Executive Circulars.


** Specific Pay Scales will be developed for Mental Health Services following completion of service specific talks with the Department of Health, Health Service Executive and Department of Public Expenditure & Reform**



The update relating to pay rates and allowances provided within this document is based on existing information available to SIPTU at the time of publication. SIPTU does not accept responsibility for the accuracy of the information provided and reserves the right to amend, alter or remove same at any time in the future. The information relating to pay rates and allowances is subject to qualifying criteria and acceptance of same by the applicant nurse or midwife. This update is provided for information purposes only and does not infer or confirm any contractual employment rights on any individual. This update is advanced in good faith and is deemed to be accepted on this basis. The update is for information sharing on a ‘without prejudice’ basis. The update does not remove the right of SIPTU to advance any collective industrial relations issues relating to the information provided which it deems fitting and appropriate to the body of its membership.


18/04/2019 Comments are off Patrick Cole

Section 39 employers set to miss deadline for pay restoration

SIPTU representatives held discussions today (Thursday 18thApril) with the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Department of Health on the implementation of pay restoration for thousands of Section 39 workers. Talks have now adjourned until Friday 10th May.

SIPTU Divisional Organiser Paul Bell said: “Following these discussions it is clear that the date (Tuesday, 30th April) for implementing pay restoration as agreed with the Government, will not be met by all Section 39 organisations. In some cases, employers have not submitted all the data required by the HSE and in other cases the data provided is not incomplete. Our members believe that this is unacceptable and are rightly outraged by this failure by management to pay them what they are owed, on time, and in full.”

He added: “Out of the 50 Section 39 organisations who agreed to pay our members what they are owed, only ten have submitted acceptable data. Each of these ten organisations will receive a letter from the HSE within the month of May confirming monies to pay the restoration due to our members. The remaining 40 organisations will be engaged by the HSE for the purpose of completing the data and oversight process.”

He added: “We want our members to know that we have challenged the HSE and Department of Health on their approach and how it is a clear breach of the agreement. While our charge is accepted by the employers, the deadline for pay restoration will not be met. However, the effective payment date remains as agreed. SIPTU representatives will be fighting to ensure our members are backdated their money from that date (Tuesday, 30th April). Section 39 Home Help and Community Care organisations based in Dublin will be addressed in a parallel engagement under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission in the coming days.”

Further updates will be made available on the SIPTU Health App.

15/04/2019 Comments are off Patrick Cole

SIPTU extends ballot for strike action to all members in health service support grades

SIPTU Health will begin balloting up to 17,000 members working as Health Care Assistants, Chefs, Laboratory Aides, Theatre Operatives and in other support grades including those working in catering, household, portering, patient transport and security services, for strike action in 36 major hospitals from next Monday (22nd April).

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “The move to extend the ballot for strike action from selected hospitals to include all members in support grades follows a meeting of the SIPTU Health Support Sector Committee on Thursday (11th April).

“It is clear that tensions have been heightened by the recent HSE decision to introduce an overtime ban and announce a three month recruitment embargo, putting additional pressure on staff. Our members have played by the rules and waited since 2015 for the Government to honour, in full, a job evaluation process that was negotiated as part of the Lansdowne Road Agreement.”

He added: “The members of the SIPTU Health Support Sector Committee believe that the totality of the job evaluation scheme is now compromised. Our members’ confidence in the Public Service Stability Agreement has also been severely undermined and they are actively questioning its future.”

The result of the ballot will be announced on Thursday 16th May.

Updates and balloting schedules will be available on the SIPTU Health App.

List of hospitals to be balloted

  • 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 Luke’s 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 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 Orthopaedic Hospital Croom
13/04/2019 Comments are off Patrick Cole

Raise the Roof for more public housing

Private rental costs are spiralling, the official number of homeless people is now over 10,000 including more than 3000 children, and the Government has failed to reach any of the building targets for public housing it set out in its Rebuilding Ireland plan almost three years ago.

New figures suggest that people in the private rental market are paying at least 27% of their monthly income for a roof over their heads with some in the major cities coughing up more than 40%. Meanwhile the so called ‘rent cap’ is being widely breached. For most people on modest or low incomes this leaves little or no money to meet every day needs, not to mind the cost of childcare or other necessities.

In a further blow to the credibility of government claims to have developed a sustainable housing policy, house prices have jumped by 8% in Dublin and 6% state-wide over the past year, making it more difficult for people even on higher incomes to purchase a home.

Then arrived a scathing letter to the Government in late March in which two respected UN investigators criticised the paucity of public housing programmes since 2008 and before. The letter from Surya Deva, chief rapporteur of the UN working group on human rights and transnational corporations and Leilani Farha, special rapporteur on adequate housing, is also a detailed critique of the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) and its role in what the authors term the ‘financialisation of housing’ in Ireland.

They claimed that over 90 per cent of loans sold by NAMA, since its inception in 2009, have gone to international, mainly US funds. It further stated that NAMA and the introduction of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITS) as well as the sale of non-performing loans by State controlled banks, have contributed directly to the housing and homeless emergency.

“Our chief concern lies with those laws and policies which have allowed unprecedented amounts of global capital to be invested in housing as security for financial instruments that are traded on global markets, and as a means of accumulating wealth,” the letter from Deva and Farha asserts.

“This expanding role and unprecedented dominance of unregulated financial markets and corporations in the housing sector is now generally referred to as the ‘financialisation of housing’ and it is having devastating consequences for tenants. Contrary to international human rights obligations, investment in housing in the Republic of Ireland has disconnected housing from its core social purpose of providing people with a place to live in with security and dignity.”


The root cause of the State’s failure to deliver decent, affordable housing is the blind allegiance of the main right-wing parties, and the well-endowed interests that support them, to the notion that private builders and developers, including global investment funds, will supply the number of homes required to meet demand.

This ideological myopia flies in the face of reality but it also masks the deeper malaise in housing policy over several decades which has arisen over the decision to abandon the traditional role of the State through its local authorities to deliver social and affordable housing.

It is widely accepted that the Government must invest some €2.5 billion each year over the next ten years to meet the needs of those on the social housing list and others on low and middle incomes who require affordable homes. It is no accident that this is close to the amount put into the pockets of landlords through the HAP scheme and private builders and developers each year by the State.

Although this level of investment was endorsed by a majority Dáil vote in October last year, the Fine Gael led government, after confidence and supply discussions with Fianna Fáil, refused to make provision for the amount required in Budget 2019. This, despite the support given by Fianna Fáil TD’s to the opposition motion calling for this scale of investment as well as an end to forced evictions, proper rent controls and for the right to housing to be incorporated in law or in the Constitution.

These are the demands of the Raise the Roof campaign which involves trade unions, progressive parties women’s and students organisations as well as housing activist, NGO’s and community groups across the country. The campaign held its first rally at Leinster House, Dublin on 3rd October 2018 when the Dáil motion was debated.

The Raise the Roof campaign has also held rallies in Cork in January and in Galway on Monday 8th April to coincide with similar motions at local authority meetings in the two cities and is planning a national rally in Dublin on Saturday, 18th May. SIPTU District Councils have also organised seminars to highlight the housing emergency across the country in recent weeks.

It is vital that SIPTU members as well as the broad mass of people who are affected by the housing emergency, whose family members and friends are also struggling to make ends meet on low and precarious earnings and keep a decent roof over their heads, support this campaign and rally. Only a radical change in government policy can solve the housing emergency.

10/04/2019 Comments are off Patrick Cole

Enhanced Nurse / Midwife Employment Contract

Attached is the proposed new contract for Nurses and Midwives working in Acute and Intellectual Disability settings.

This revised version of the contract focuses on alternative wording on 4 key areas.

  • Location
  • Duties
  • Hours of Work
  • Qualifying Criteria

SIPTU representatives have written to the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive to discuss the draft contract as received and have sought advancement of the talks for mental health.

Further updates will be available on the SIPTU Health Division App and website.

Members download the contract here

08/04/2019 Comments are off Patrick Cole

SIPTU representatives determine ballot on new nursing contract would be premature

Members of the SIPTU Nursing and Midwives Sector Committee have today (Monday, 8th April) determined that a ballot on a proposed new nursing contract would be premature.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “Following a meeting of the National Nursing and Midwifery Sector Committee today in Liberty Hall, a decision has been reached not to ballot members on Labour Court Recommendation (LCR21942) on the basis that the Government has failed to confirm crucial details on a revised contract of employment for the proposed enhanced nursing and midwifery role.

SIPTU representatives will not initiate a ballot or make a recommendation to our nursing and midwifery members until we are in a position to present all the facts to our members. We also will not conduct a ballot until all negotiations are concluded on behalf of our nursing members working across mental health services.”

He added: “SIPTU representatives have previously warned that a one size fits all model will not work and that proposals aimed at resolving the nursing and midwifery dispute in the acute settings will not be accepted as a resolution to claims presented by nurses in the mental health sector.”

SIPTU Nursing Sector Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “Our members in nursing and midwifery are of the view that until they can make an informed decision then balloting would be premature. Our members have not seen a new contract and are still in the dark as it whether the employer itself accepts the terms of the contract. We have communicated these concerns to the Department of Health and have requested immediate engagement.

The message is clear coming from our Sector Committee. Our members are demanding clarity on the proposed new contract of employment and all issues pertaining to our members’ right to benefit from the existing terms negotiated under the Public Service Stability Agreement.”

07/04/2019 Comments are off Patrick Cole

Realising the dream a century on

This year we mark the centenary of the First Dáil. The Irish Labour Party and Trade Union Congress played a significant role in shaping the ‘Democratic Programme’ of the Dáil meeting in January 1919. Yet, much of what was contained in that document was subsequently forgotten or dismissed.

Along with other trade unions, the Irish Transport and General Workers Union – now SIPTU – played a constructive role in helping to steer Ireland towards a coherent social vision for the entire island of Ireland.

The challenge remains. Following a bruising economic crisis after 2008, the lessons of economic and policy development have not been learned or applied by Government. Witness, for example, the partial or complete non-implementation of the ‘Vacant Site Levy’ tax across local authorities in the midst of a housing crisis. The rights of property still come before the rights of workers, families and children to a home and a living wage.

Reclaiming the debate from a tired and lazy group-think will require a programme of systematic education and organisation on the part of the trade union movement. We need to move towards a new democratic programme informed by the same principles as those enunciated in 1919 but against a very different global and local context.

Three big challenges confront us: (1) a growing and ageing population with all that this implies for housing, healthcare, pensions, education and many other areas; (2) new technologies that will transform the way we work, travel and live; and (3) the crisis of the environment that will threaten life on this planet for our children and our children’s children.

We must not let others claim those areas vital to a progressive social and political vision. In the trade union movement we need to claim work, the ‘social wage’ and ‘enterprise’ development.

Reclaiming work

Work – paid or unpaid – is central to who we are. It is vital that people have access to all forms of work that match their skills and needs. Employment rates need to be higher. However, we need to pay more attention to the quality of work including the wider array of benefits, rights and guarantees.

Reconciling the different roles of work, caring and participation in the cultural and community life of the world around us should be made easier by creating pathways that are flexible and that give access to the supports and services that are needed. A living wage is one essential part, only, of an effort to eradicate poverty among those at work.

Reclaiming the ‘social wage’

The ‘social wage’ refers to public goods such as education, health- care, income support, transport and other services. Work is the basis of the social wage through taxes and the employment of those in the public service. The best way to tackle poverty is to secure jobs and wages that pay.

Well paid employment enables people to live with dignity and provides the resources for investment and maintenance of a high level of ‘social wage’.

Reclaiming enterprise/ industrial policy

To be for equality is not to be anti-business. A dynamic, pro-business environment can co-exist with a strong social protection safety net as well as a creative and dynamic partnership between public, private and voluntary bodies. A greater role in the running of enterprises for workers, consumers and communities could boost productivity and address some of the challenges posed by climate change and the need to switch away from fossil fuels.

Now, let’s leave the last word, here, with George Bernard Shaw: “You see things, and you say ‘Why?’ But I dream things that never were, and I say ‘Why not?’”