Low paid workers must be focus of pay talks

Pay talks for health workers must focus on the low paid and cannot be linked to demands for further improvements in productivity was the message from the ‘Ending the Emergency – SIPTU Health Division Conference’, held in the Mansion House Dublin on Thursday, 23rd April.

Addressing delegates at the conference SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “Looking to the future we believe that the Government working with SIPTU have an opportunity to commence a journey which will see the closing of the gap between low to middle income earners and those at the top.

“This position is not just about pay and economics its about our society going forward.”

Bell was responding to an earlier address by Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin, in which he stated that talks between public sector unions and the Government, which are expected to begin in May, “in the first instance will concentrate on ensuring the lower paid public servant benefits proportionately better.”

In her presentation to the conference SIPTU national Campaigns and Equality Organiser, Ethel Buckley, outlined the union’s plans for SIPTUhealth.ie and the progress that has been made on the site so far.

SIPTUhealth.ie was launched in October 2014 in response to members demand for their own dedicated communications platform. In only seven months we have had 89,000 visits to the website. We put out a 100-day user survey recently to members to get their feedback on what we can do to improve the content and layout of the site. Members feedback is being actioned and we are very encouraged by their contribution.”

She also said that members would be kept informed of development during the upcoming talks process with the government through a phone bank system, which was currently being developed as part of the union’s campaign in support of the marriage equality referendum on Twitter and SIPTU Health Plus.

Other issues that were focused upon at the conference were ensuring, that the 1,300 health workers in support services on Intern contracts are made permanent.

There were also calls for the practice of issuing zero hours contracts for those working in community sector home care services to be ended along with the outsourcing of support service positions to for profit private companies.

Among the other speakers at the conference were Orlagh Fawl of the SIPTU Strategic Organising Department, Dr. Thomas Stephen, a health policy expert based at Trinity College Dublin and Dr. Micheál Collins of the Nevin Economic Research Institute.

For videos of the conference click on the text below. 

NMBI Picture Protest – Get Involved

SIPTU, and other health unions, have organised a nationwide social media picture protest under the hashtag #no2NMBIincreases from noon Wednesday the 17th of December until Friday the 19th of December.

Sector Organiser Kevin Figgis said that all members can join in the nationwide workplace social media picture protest that will confirm broad support for the no to the NMBI fee increase campaign.

“The NMBI special board met last Friday, 12th December 2014 and it did not result in any new developments so we have no alternative but to continue our campaign of opposition to this unfair and unjustified tax on our members work.

We decided on having a social media event because we want a visual wall of opposition to this NMBI increase and we are asking all of our members to upload a picture of opposition onto social media with the hashtag #no2NMBIincreases and to email them to ask@siptuhealth.ie to be uploaded onto the Union’s Facebook, Twitter and website,” said Mr Figgis.

Mr Figgis also said that SIPTU members should cancel NMBI direct debits, if not already done so.

“We are encouraging our members to pay €100, after 5th January 2015, or when your personal circumstances allow and remind all members that no-one has to pay by 1st January, ignore recent statements from NMBI which, regretfully, continue to be threatening and misleading,” Mr Figgis concluded.

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Hold Tight, Do Not Pay and Come Out On The Day

SIPTU members are being asked not to feel pressurised by the NMBI renewal notice and to stand together and refuse to pay the 50% increase imposed on Nurses and Midwives by the NMBI.

SIPTU and other unions are seeking a cap on the fee of €100 per annum under the Haddington Road agreement that will keep Nurses and Midwives in line with other allied health professionals.

Sector Organiser Kevin Figgis said that no state organisation is entitled to increase its income by 50% from a single source and is encouraging all members of SIPTU attend the protest so that their voices can be heard loud and clear by the NMBI.

“Our members should not feel pressurised by the renewal notice issued in recent days by NMBI. They have until 30th May 2015 to make a payment under the 2014 regulations issued by NMBI. The employer, in this case the HSE, cannot discipline any member, or require proof of payment, until after that date”.

“This unjustified increase and tax on work is at the expense of hard pressed people that have worked day in and day out with staffing and pay cuts across the health service – enough is enough.”

“This campaign of resistance can work is all our members stick together and attend the protest on the 18th of November. It is also very important for our members to be aware that they have up until the 30th of May 2015 to make their payment under NMBI regulations so our advice is to hold tight, don’t pay and come out on the day.”

Note to members

Buses for the protest are available – contact your local Union rep or email ask@siptuhealth.ie

NMBI is seeking to increase the retention fee for members for 2015, from €100 to €150. ‌ Nurses and midwives will hold a public protest, to coincide with the next meeting of the NMBI board, which is scheduled for Tuesday, 18th November. This protest will begin at midday outside NMBI Headquarters, 18/20 Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock, Co. Dublin.

SIPTU nurses and midwives are also being asked to send in individual letters of complaint to NMBI outlining their reasons for opposing the rise in the retention fee.

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SIPTU serves notice of protective strike action on Dublin hospitals

SIPTU has served notice of protective strike action, today (Friday, 31st October), on Dublin’s six main training hospitals in a dispute over rosters and pay.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “Following the unilateral decision by the hospital managements to attempt to change working patterns for porters, catering operatives, laboratory assistants and CSSD Technicians, SIPTU has been left with no alternative but to serve notice of protective strike action”.

The hospitals involved are St Vincent’s University, Beaumont, the Mater, Tallaght and St Luke’s and the National Maternity Hospital at Holles Street.

He added: “These hospitals have been advised by letter that our members will engage in strike action should management unilaterally introduce change to our members rosters and established shift patterns, which management have agreed with workers, will be retained”.

Paul Bell has previously informed the HSE and the management of the six hospitals that the Croke Park and Haddington Road agreements contain provisions which protect the earnings of low paid workers in the health service who have already suffered major reductions in pay.

SIPTU says NMBI fee increase may breach Haddington Road Agreement

SIPTU and other health sector unions have asked Department of Health officials to examine whether an attempt by the Nurses and Midwives Board of Ireland (NMBI) to increase members’ retention fees from €100 to €150 next year breeches the Haddington Road Agreement.

The retention fee issue was raised by union representatives at a meeting of the Health Service Haddington Road Oversight Body held yesterday (Wednesday, 29th October).

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “At the meeting the union side stressed the requirement, within the Haddington Road Agreement, that in return for acceptance of the agreement, there would be no further costs incurred by staff. We asked the Oversight Body to ensure that this aspect of the agreement was honoured.

“After discussion the Department of Health representative, at the Oversight Body meeting, asked for further time to review the issue.  He committed the Department of Health to an early meeting to discuss this issue, as previously requested by the unions. This meeting is expected to take place next week”.

Paul Bell added: “SIPTU members are asked not to pay their NMBI retention fee increase and cancel any direct debits for this purpose. Our members have suffered significant financial reductions over the past number of years including pay cuts, the imposition of levies and the Universal Social Charge.

 “They are not in a position to pay increased fees to NMBI, an organisation which has attempted to impose an increase of nearly 70% in the retention fee over the last two years. The unions hold a collective view that the registration fee should be maintained at the current level of €100. In due course, we will advise members of when and how they should pay this €100”.

Nurses and midwives will hold a public protest, to coincide with the next meeting of the NMBI board, which is scheduled for Tuesday, 18th November. This protest will begin at midday outside NMBI Headquarters, 18/20 Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock, Co. Dublin.

SIPTU nurses and midwives are also being asked to send in individual letters of complaint to NMBI outlining their reasons for opposing the rise in the retention fee.

For a further update please download NMBI Newsflash No 5 04-11-14