SIPTU calls on government and EU to address key issues on International Nurses Day

As the country returns to normal following the end of lockdown and attention turns to other issues, nurses and other health care workers continue to deal with the risks of the pandemic, shortages of staff, overcrowding and increasingly difficult working conditions. SIPTU calls on the government to properly address these issues as a matter of urgency and recognise the crucial role of these health care staff.

In addition, SIPTU seeks proper occupational illness benefits for nurses and other healthcare workers due to the additional health risks while carrying out their normal duties. We also calling for the rollout of the task force on safe staffing and skill mix across all sectors.

Lastly, in line with our sister trade unions across Europe in EPSU we are calling on the EU to;

1) Ensure that the newly established COVID committee takes stock of the role of nurses and other health care workers during the pandemic and includes these front-line workers and their organisations in the discussions about the lessons to be drawn for the next pandemic;
2) Develop a dedicated Directive on Psychosocial Risks to protect workers from stress and burnout caused by work;
3) Increase the investment of the EU4Health budget into improving the working conditions of nurses, in relation to reinforcing the healthcare workforce. The European Commission should encourage Member States to apply for funding for these purposes.
4) Support collective bargaining and trade unions rights for nurses and other healthcare workers working across the entire health sector.

Community sector and Section 39 health workers to march for better pay and respect

Trade union members working in the community sector and for Section 39 healthcare organisations from across the country are holding a major protest to highlight the need for better pay and respect of their roles in Dublin on Tuesday, 3rd May.

Among the hundreds of organisations the trade union members work for are Rehab Group, Western Care, Pieta House, EmployAbility, Local Employment Services, Ability West, Inclusion Ireland, Local Community Partnerships, Job Clubs, LEADER projects and the Irish Wheelchair Association.

SIPTU Public Administration and Community Division Organiser, Adrian Kane, said: “In many cases community sector and Section 39 organisation workers are poorly paid, have poor or no pension provision and lack security of employment. This is despite these workers providing important health and social services to the most disadvantaged and vulnerable members of our society.

“The role of such community and healthcare organisations is vital at all times. They played a particularly key role in keeping our society together during the pandemic and are now being called upon to assist the wave of refugees that have resulted from the conflict in Ukraine.”

He added: “SIPTU, Fórsa and the INMO have come together under the banner of ICTU to seek a collective bargaining forum with Government to ensure our members’ terms and conditions of employment are on a par with the quality services which they provide.”

SIPTU Health Division Sector Organiser, Damian Ginley, said: “These workers provide some of our most vital community and care services including care for persons with a disability, the elderly, vulnerable families, meals on wheels and young people.

“The march and protest outside Leinster House in Dublin on Tuesday, 3rd May, is an opportunity for these workers and their supporters to tell the Government that action must be taken now to properly recognise the importance of the work they do. These workers need a pay rise and access to sick pay and pension schemes.”

Marchers will assemble outside the Customs House, Dublin 1, at 11.00 a.m. from where they will march to rally in Merrion Square, Dublin 2.

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Valuing Community – National Day of Protest

A national rally will be held in early May in support of SIPTU members in the Community and Voluntary Sector, some of whom have not received a pay rise in twelve years. Many workers in this sector are also precariously employed with little or no pension cover or sick pay.

The national rally will assemble at 11.00 a.m. on Tuesday, 3rd May at the Customs House, Dublin 1 and march to Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin 2.

These workers provide some of our most vital community and care services including care for persons with a disability, the elderly, vulnerable families, meals on wheels and young people.

Among the hundreds of organisations, they work for are Rehab Group, Western Care, Pieta House, Local Employment Services, Ability West, Inclusion Ireland, Local Community Partnerships, Job Clubs, LEADER projects and the Irish Wheelchair Association, as well as many home support services across the Dublin region.

SIPTU conference told community workers to begin protest campaign on 11th April

SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, John King, has told the union’s Biennial Delegate Conference that members within the community sector will begin a national campaign of protest, industrial and strike action aimed at ending “the neglect of this sector by the state”.

Addressing the conference today (Tuesday, 29th March) in Sligo, King said the campaign would begin with a national protest in Dublin on Monday, 11th April.

He added; “The continued neglect, underfunding and wilful abandonment of the workers in this sector by the State and the establishment is shameful. Community and Section 39 Agency workers provide essential public services, on behalf of the State, to some of the most vulnerable and marginalised citizens and communities.

“The denial of funding for improvements in pay and conditions of employment is unacceptable. The move to privatise and commercialise some of these services will have profound negative consequences for our society and the citizens and communities that rely on them.”

He continued: “The Government must engage with this union to put in place a process that ensures these workers and their representatives can engage in a meaningful collective bargaining process that delivers implementable outcomes. If this Government is serious about the concept of Sectoral Bargaining, treating all the stakeholders as equals then it should show it in this Sector of our economy.

“SIPTU, with our colleague unions – Forsa and INMO will be supporting community sector workers in a campaign of protest, industrial and strike action in their pursuit of the right to be treated fairly and equitably. This commences on Monday, 11th April with a national protest and I ask you all to do everything you can to support this. Join us on our protest and let’s show solidarity with the resolve of community sector workers to make sure 2022 becomes the year we end their neglect by the State.”

In his address, King also renewed his call for the Government to review the Building Momentum, Public Sector Agreement. He said: “This is necessary right now because the underlying assumptions underpinning this modest agreement no longer apply. Inflation and the risk to the exchequer finances arising from the impact of the Covid pandemic are not in the place they were in 2020.”

More than 350 delegates are attending the SIPTU Biennial Delegate Conference in the Clayton Hotel in Sligo which to debate and discuss motions on improving the lives of workers in Ireland.

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SIPTU members concerned over National Ambulance Service move to Level 3 surge capacity

SIPTU and Irish Ambulance Representative Council (IARC) representatives have today (Friday, 31st December) expressed concerns over the decision to move to Level 3 surge capacity due to extreme pressure on the National Ambulance Service (NAS).

SIPTU Ambulance Sector Organiser, Ted Kenny said: “Our members are working night and day to alleviate the pressure on the service and it is vital that the public do all they can to support them. The NAS has four levels of surge escalation. We are now at Level 3 which is quite rare. Nobody wants to go to Level 4. The Health Service Executive (HSE) must do all it can to prevent that from happening. The shortfall in capacity is stark and while the HSE can utilise external providers, like the army, fire service, voluntary and private services to help plug the gaps and fill the shortfalls in the immediate term, this is not a long term solution to the capacity issues facing our members and the NAS as a whole. We all know the pressures on the service have sharply increased over the last number of years, yet staffing levels and resources have not kept pace with the demand.”

Irish Ambulance Representative Council (IARC) Chairman, Peter Ray, said: “Our members are urging the public to consider all options before calling for an ambulance and that people should only call for an ambulance in emergency situations. Meanwhile, we wish all our members in the NAS who are currently out of work due to contracting Covid-19 a full and speedy recovery.”

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SIPTU Health Division: Christmas message

On behalf of our members, staff and activists I want wish you a happy Christmas and a prosperous new year.

Living and working with Covid throughout 2021 has challenged all of us and tested our health service to the absolute limit. That is why our Division has been entirely focused on supporting our members throughout this crisis and working with them to make sure there are brighter days ahead in 2022.

Between Thursday, 23rd December and Tuesday, 4th January, physical access to SIPTU offices will be limited due to public health restrictions. If anything urgent arises please contact your local representative or your union official.

Alternatively, you can email your query directly to the SIPTU Health Division HERE and a member of our team will get back to you as soon as we can. In the meantime, you can keep up with any important developments on the SIPTU Health App.

Once again thank you for your continued support and for taking the time to read our membership updates throughout 2021, Enjoy the festivities and stay safe.

Pictured: Temple Street’s Hospital Head Porter John Doyle and SIPTU member with Forsa members at the annual toy donation for Children’s Health Ireland

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Sectoral bargaining process underway across public service

A sectoral bargaining process is underway across the public service with a fund available to pay claims of 1% of basic pensionable pay during the lifetime of the Building Momentum Agreement.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “This fund will also deal with outstanding adjudications, recommendations and awards. This part of the agreement is being negotiated by Sectoral Bargaining Units. This process is currently underway and payments are due from 1st February 2022. Negotiations for a new public service agreement will start in the summer of 2022.

“Last October, SIPTU members received a 1% pay increase, or €500 a year boost in wages, whichever is the greater. This means that all public sector workers on lower incomes will receive a significantly larger percentage increase than higher paid staff.”

He added: “Substantial protective provisions were also copper fastened by Building Momentum and with the uncertainty the pandemic has brought about these measures are needed now more than ever. Overtime rates, and twilight shift premiums were also restored while a mechanism has been secured to deal with the additional unpaid hours worked by our members.”

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SIPTU members in St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services secure 4% pay increase

SIPTU members working in St Patrick’s Mental Health Services (SPMHS) have today (Friday, 17th December) overwhelmingly endorsed pay proposals to improve pay and conditions at the facility.

The two year agreement negotiated between SIPTU and SPMHS management provides for an increase in pay worth up to 4%, with enhanced workplace protections until 2023.

SIPTU Health Organiser, Aideen Carberry, said: “It has been several years since our members have enjoyed real increases in pay at St. Patrick’s Mental Health Services. The reality is that our members have demonstrated extraordinary flexibility during the Covid-19 crisis and deserve this boost in earnings. Day in, day out they are on the frontline of mental health services delivering quality care to clients. We now look forward to future engagements with SPMHS to continuously improve the terms and conditions of our members that reflect their skills, commitment and dedication to the people they care for.”

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SIPTU expresses deep concerns over pressure on ambulance, fire and emergency services

SIPTU representatives have today (Wednesday, 15th December) expressed deep concerns over the high level of pressure on ambulance, fire and emergency services across the country. 

Speaking at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health, SIPTU Ambulance Sector Organiser, Ted Kenny said: “In order for a proper discussion to take place on the resources required for the State’s ambulance services, it is an absolute imperative that the recommendations of the NAS Capacity Review and any future reviews are fully resourced and implemented.”

We also raised the issues affecting our members in regard to meal breaks, extended duty and traveling large distances out of their geographical areas. The reality is 2000 staff and 100 new ambulances are needed to address the shortfalls along with an education program aimed at GP’s and the wider community on what the appropriate call to the ambulance service should be to help elevate the A&E waiting times.”

SIPTU Industrial Organiser for Dublin Fire Brigade, Geoff McEvoy, said: “The huge advances made by our members from the ground up are testament to our credibility in the area of improving the ambulance and fire based EMS service through the development of ambulance and fire personnel and services. However, a chronic shortage in both personnel and resources is adding significantly to the pressures on the service.”

To read the full submission to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health click here

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Pay proposals accepted at Royal College of Surgeons Ireland

Union members working in the Royal College of Surgeons Ireland, based in Dublin 2, have accepted new pay proposals by an overwhelming majority.

Members of SIPTU and the Irish Federation of University Teachers were balloted during November and voted by an overwhelming majority to accept an agreement, negotiated between management and their local union representatives which will run until September 2024.

The deal provides for an annual 2.5% increase on basic pay for all staff earning less than €100,000 with a minimum payment of €1,500 in the first year. The first phase of the increases, which is retrospective to 1st October 2021, will be paid this month.

SIPTU Organiser, Aideen Carberry, said: “This new three-year agreement guarantees our RCSI members increases in pay and job security. The fact that this agreement was reached locally is a testament to the resolve of union representatives to work collectively for the benefit of all members in the workplace.”

SIPTU Organiser, Cathie Shiels, said: “The results of this agreement speak for themselves and make clear the value of trade union membership.”