Covid test centre Swabbers condemn failure to honour review of pay rates

SIPTU members employed as Covid test centre swabbers are calling on the Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, to directly intervene to resolve their dispute with the HSE and the Department of Health concerning a review of pay rates for these essential workers.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Damian Ginley, said: “This dispute centres on the failure of the HSE and Department of Health to honour clearly written commitments to have the Covid test centre swabber grade reviewed as part of a wider job evaluation scheme for health sector support workers.

“Our members are appalled and angered at the lack of respect being shown to swabbers. Covid test centre swabbers provide a key role in the test and trace approach adopted by this Government in response to the pandemic. When test centres were rolled out across all counties, swabbers took up temporary positions to support the Government in meeting the enormous demands faced on the service at the height of the pandemic.

“They met these demands in very challenging environments when there was enormous uncertainty as to the severity of the virus and very limited access to PPE. These workers put both themselves and their family members at risk to serve in the Government response to the pandemic.

“All our members are seeking is for the commitment to allow the swabber grade to be considered under the support staff job evaluation scheme to be honoured. They were available to partake in evaluations only to have their review appointments cancelled by the HSE.”

He added: “Despite numerous attempts to have this matter resolved our members were left with no alternative but to seek an urgent referral of the dispute to the Workplace Relations Commission. As the Government proposes to significantly scale back current Covid testing facilities from 30th June, our members are requesting that the Minister for Health personally intervenes at this late stage to ensure that this matter is addressed immediately.”

Public Service Pay Update – Talks at WRC conclude with no agreement

Negotiations on public service pay have concluded in the early hours of Friday (June 17th) without agreement at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

SIPTU Deputy General Secretary, John King, has said “it was very disappointing that it was not possible to close out on a review of the Public Service Agreement, Building Momentum, despite lengthy talks taking place at the WRC with officials from the government department for Public Expenditure.”

“Public service Unions are disappointed that, despite an element of positive engagement during the day, the reality is that the government side were not in a position to move into a space where agreement could be concluded.”

SIPTU and the ICTU public service unions had invoked the review clause of the agreement given the impact of inflation and increases in the costs of living on the value of workers’ wages; and the fact that these developments had completely eroded the benefit of modest the modest increases contained in Building Momentum.

The WRC requested both sides reflect on their position and public service Unions remain available for further engagement should the WRC invite the parties to further discussions.

Public Service Pay talks commence at the Workplace Relations Commission

SIPTU Deputy General Secretary for Public Services, John King, is attending the Workplace Relations Commission today (Monday, June 13th) for talks on the Public Service Agreement.

On attending the talks John King said “SIPTU’s position remains that the for the process of these talks to have any chance of achieving a positive outcome they must deliver a fair outcome with meaningful pay increases for Public Sector workers. Workers across the Public Service have seen the value of pay increases in the current agreement eroded by high inflation driving cost of living increases. This will have to be addressed as a priority in these talks.”

Negotiations on the Public Service Agreement have commenced under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission as Unions have triggered a review clause within the existing public sector pay deal ‘Building Momentum’ due to rising inflation.

SIPTU Representatives attend launch of Framework for Safe Nurse Staffing and Skill Mix in Emergency Department Care

SIPTU representatives have today (Thursday, June 2nd) attended the launch of the report on Phase II of the Framework for Safe Staffing and Skill Mix – the policy for determining safe Nurse and Health Care Assistant staffing in Irish care settings. The report launched today specifically deals with safe staffing in adult Emergency Care settings.

Speaking after the launch John McCamley, SIPTU Sector Organiser for Nursing and Midwifery, said “SIPTU representatives have actively engaged with the rollout of the Framework for Safe Staffing and Skill Mix to date and welcome the publication of the report that deals with Emergency Care. Our Nursing and HCA members will be keenly interested in ensuring it is rolled out in EDs across the country to the benefit of staff and patients.”

“The Union will continue to press for the rollout of the Framework for Safe Staffing and Skill Mix across all areas of the health service.”

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.

26/04/2022 Comments are off SIPTU Health Admin
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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.

31/12/2021 Comments are off SIPTU Health
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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.”

23/12/2021 Comments are off SIPTU Health
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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