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.