Now is the time for Healthcare Assistants to Organise – SIPTU

SIPTU, the Union with national negotiation rights for Healthcare Assistants (HCAs) in Ireland, will today (September 21st), be reaching out to HCAs in Galway University Hospital and encouraging them to join the Union to ensure their role is recognised and respected.

The Union will be on the site of Galway University Hospital today, speaking to HCAs about the value of joining SIPTU and sharing information on their rights and entitlements in the workplace.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Pat Flannery, said “the role of the HCA is continuing to evolve at a rapid pace. What was once considered an auxiliary role, is now fundamental to the delivery of direct patient care. In the last number of years, we have seen that the HSE Support Grade Job Evaluation Scheme, a scheme in which the roles of support workers were independently evaluated, deemed that the role warranted being re-banded to a higher rate of pay. It was in recognition of the fact that the role has evolved in recent years.”

“Our Union successfully negotiated for a full review of the role of the HCA, which was published in 2018. Among the recommendations of that report was that resources be made available for ongoing training and development of HCAs, to explore the possibility of having HCAs as professionally registered grade; and explore career pathways for HCAs. The Union is working hard to make sure the recommendations of this report are fully implemented.”

“It is important to state that, as a Union, SIPTU does not just represent HCAs in the public service. SIPTU also represents HCAs in the Section 39 and private service. We encourage carers in every employment and setting to join SIPTU” Mr Flannery concluded.

SIPTU criticises Galway University Hospital’s failure to fully utilise Health Care Assistants

SIPTU representatives have criticised the management of Galway University Hospital for its failure to fully utilise Health Care Assistants (HCAs) in the provision of direct patient care in its temporary emergency department during a period of intense pressure in the facility.

SIPTU Organiser, Yvonne McGrath, said: “Our HCA members are ready, willing and able to use their skills to provide direct patient care. They feel frustrated that their expertise and skillset is not being recognised and utilised to maximum effect in order to assist with patient care within the emergency department and broader hospital.

“SIPTU representatives and hospital management had engaged under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission, on 20th July last year, concerning issues related to the role of HCAs. On that occasion it was agreed that HCAs should no longer be carrying out certain functions, that were inappropriate to their role, within the emergency department and that support services staff would be used to carry out these functions.

“Since then, there has been no agreement on how hospital support staff will be engaged to support HCAs in their work. SIPTU representatives have now referred this matter back to the WRC. However, hospital management is yet to confirm it will attend a further WRC convened meeting.”

She added: “Unfortunately, the management of Galway University Hospital is not engaging with our union with any degree of urgency to resolve this matter. Our members are ready, willing and able to use their skills to provide direct patient care with the support of their colleagues in support services.”

SIPTU member and HCA at Galway University Hospital, Martina Burke, said: “HCAs and all staff are under significant pressure in the emergency department. However, their problems pale in comparison to those of patients who in many incidences are waiting for hours for treatment. We are willing to sit down with management to try and resolve the issues that are adversely impacting staff and patients in the emergency department. However, we need our employer to engage with us and confirm its availability to attend the WRC if these matters cannot be resolved.”

SIPTU Support Staff to conduct two-hour work stoppage in Portiuncula Hospital

SIPTU members working as Support Staff in Portiuncula Hospital, Ballinasloe, County Galway, will engage in a two-hour work stoppage from 2.30 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. tomorrow (Friday 13th November) in protest at a unilateral decision by management to begin using private contractors to cover the Emergency Department.

SIPTU Industrial Organiser Pat Flannery said: “This shows total disregard by management of its obligations under the Lansdowne Road Agreement and has happened without any engagement or agreement. The hospital had sanction to fill three vacancies directly. This approval was secured in December 2014 but the posts were never filled.”

“It is a blatant attempt by management to outsource the cleaning of a public hospital to private contractors.”


SIPTU members suspend industrial action in Galway social care work dispute

SIPTU members working as social care workers and social care leaders in the Brothers of Charity and Ability West services, county Galway, have suspended a campaign of industrial action which began earlier this month.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “The industrial action has been suspended until a ballot on a proposal from the employer is completed. The union has received confirmation from the HSE that the Department of Health has allocated funds to cover the monies owed to these workers as compensation for their employers failure to honour so-called ‘twilight payment’ rates.

“The level of compensation to be made available to the workers will be in line with a Labour Relations Commission (LRC) proposal on this matter.

“The Department of Health has also made funds available to cover the liabilities for Brothers of Charity social care workers, care assistants and leaders employed in Roscommon, Cork, Limerick, Clare and Waterford where premium pay arrears are also outstanding.”

He added: “During October, SIPTU members will attend information meetings to discuss the employer’s proposal.

Following these meetings, members will have the opportunity to vote in a secret ballot to accept or reject the offer.

“The workers involved in this dispute are committed staff providing a vital service to people with intellectual disabilities.

They felt they had been left with no option but to undertake industrial action due to their employer’s failure to honour a LRC proposal on compensation.

This dispute has been difficult for the workers. It has also been difficult and stressful for the families of service users and clients.

However, SIPTU members ensured that their vulnerable clients were not adversely affected during the industrial action.”

SIPTU members to vote on HSE proposal in Galway health workers dispute

SIPTU members working as social care workers and social care leaders in County Galway will vote on a proposal tabled by the HSE to resolve a dispute concerning the payment of monies owed to them for evening work.

SIPTU Organiser, Mark Lohan, said: “Social care workers and social care leaders working for Ability West and the Brothers of Charity Services in Galway have not received monies that the Labour Court ruled were owed to them as compensation for these organisations failure to honour so-called ‘twilight payment’ rates.

“The failure by management to honour the Labour Court ruling led to industrial action by workers. However, following intensive negotiations between SIPTU representatives and the HSE, management has presented a proposal which incudes an offer of three years back pay to the affected workers. This measure of justice is added to the union negotiated payment of the correct wages going forward since January 2015.”

He added: “SIPTU members turned up the heat in this dispute in recent weeks serving management with notice of strike action and highlighting the situation to Government TDs. These actions have resulted in a clear proposal from theemployer’s side. It is now up to the members to vote for acceptance or rejection in a ballot that will be conducted in the coming days.

“This dispute has been difficult for the workers. It has also been difficult and stressful for the families of service users and clients. However, SIPTU members ensured that those vulnerable clients were not adversely affected during the industrial action.

“SIPTU representatives have succeeded in the negotiations in ensuring the back pay settlement covers all care staff, in both companies, who work twilight shifts, and who have been historically denied the correct wages. The current proposal gives back as much as could be pried from the HSE and Department of Health, as precedent and statute also limits back pay claims.”

SIPTU secures additional funding for patient care at University Hospital Galway

SIPTU has deferred notice of industrial action at University Hospital Galway (UHG), Galway city, pending implementation of an agreement for the facility to secure additional nurses and support staff cover.

SIPTU Organiser Mark Lohan said: “This decision, following Labour Relations Commission facilitated talks between union representatives and the hospital management, vindicates our position that having so many patients on trolleys, both in the Emergency Department and on the wards, is totally unacceptable.

“SIPTU nurses and their colleagues in the Emergency Department of UHG have strongly and consistently highlighted the need for adequate staffing levels. Their reasonable requests to management concerning this issue were ignored to such an extent that they were left with no choice but to vote for industrial action.”

He added: “It was only then that management engaged in a meaningful manner and found the funding to adequately resource the Emergency Department with extra front line staff.

“The Emergency Department is still under significant pressure but in taking this stand, and getting this commitment from management, SIPTU members in UHG have played a vital role in protecting patient safety for all the residents of the west of Ireland that need to use our public hospital.”

SIPTU UHG shop steward, Ann Burke, said: “SIPTU members have got this result because they made the collective decision to stand up for patients.

“We had the courage to take a stand for what we knew to be right and have now been successful in improving our workplace and protecting our patients.”