Campaign Update – Valuing Care Valuing Community

Dear Member,

We write to you with an important update regarding the Valuing Care Valuing Community Campaign.

The story so far:
Members will be aware of the history regarding the campaign for pay justice in the Section 39, Community and Voluntary sectors.

Most recently, in July of last year workers in a number of community organisations engaged in strike action in pursuit of decent pay within their sector. This was followed by further action in September 2022 in which thirteen Section 39 agencies and community organisations took part in a day of strike action in pursuit of pay justice.

The actions were deemed to be a success. A number of high-profile public representatives publicly endorsed the campaign and called for a mechanism for addressing pay within the sector. In October, there was support across the Dáil for a Labour Party motion which called for support for the Valuing Care, Valuing Community Campaign. At the time Minister for Health, Stephen Donnelly, and Minister of State at the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, Anne Rabbitte spoke in support of a process, under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission, to address the long-standing pay issue within these organisations.

SIPTU supported the call for the use of the WRC and referred the matter for conciliation in October 2022. The Union maintained pressure on all parties to attend the WRC and honour the government’s commitment to resolve this long standing pay dispute through talks. The Union confirmed to employers our members’ willingness to take further action in progression of their claim, if necessary.

Campaign Update:
There was initial resistance by relevant government agencies and departments to attend. However, only this week it was confirmed by the HSE that it would attend talks, bringing us one step closer to resolving the dispute. The Department of Social Protection has confirmed its availability to attend the WRC and an engagement is scheduled for next week.

It is important to note that the relevant parties only agreed to attend the WRC when they realised that our members, with the support of their Union, SIPTU, would accept nothing less than their fight for pay justice to be treated as anything other than a priority.

We understand that a date for talks will be issued shortly and we will endeavour to keep our members updated with regards to any developments on the campaign.

SIPTU will revert to its members in Section 39, Community and Voluntary organisations on possible next steps, if sufficient and timely progress is not made on this claim.

It is important that you speak to your colleagues about the value of being in the Union and join SIPTU as we progress the matter of pay justice in your sector.

In solidarity,

Kevin Figgis
Divisional Organiser
Health Division

Adrian Kane
Divisional Organiser
PAC Division

Sláintecare essential to reform of dysfunctional healthcare system says Shortall

Full implementation of the Sláintecare policy is essential for the effective reform of our health and social care services, Social Democrats co-leader, Róisín Shortall, told the SIPTU Health Division Biennial Delegate Conference in Waterford on Wednesday, 26th October.

Shortall said: “Sláintecare is a 10-year roadmap for reform of our health and social care services, to get us from the current two-tier unfair and unequal and in many ways dysfunctional, health service to a universal single-tier health and social care service where people can access timely care on the basis of health need and not on their ability to pay.

“The Sláintecare report was published in May 2017 so we’re now coming to the end of year five, and the question is ‘What have we got to show for it?’ The first two years consisted of lip-service from the Fine Gael government where the Minister for Health talked the talk but didn’t actually walk the walk. The term Sláintecare became a convenient brand for him to wrap himself in.

“It seemed that most senior government politicians assumed that Sláintecare would go the way of those other health reports and be forgotten. However, when it came to the general election in early 2020, Sláintecare was adopted as official policy by all parties. No one had a Plan B.”

She added: “Like many things in life, the causes of the dysfunction and inequality of our health service are down to political choices, bad choices, which favour vested interest over the public interest.”

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said “Change is an integral part of working within the health service. Our members have demonstrated their ability to work in a changing environment over many, many years. They will not be found wanting when it comes to engaging with the implementation of Sláintecare.”

He added: “However, as we begin to grapple with what this entails, we will be doing so from the principled position that we will not be engaging with any programme that could be seen as eroding the hard-won terms and conditions that our members have fought for. SIPTU will not be engaging with any reform agenda that includes the outsourcing of our members’ roles to third parties.”

Róisín Shortall addressed the SIPTU Health Division Biennial Delegate Conference in the Tower Hotel, The Mall, Waterford City as a guest speaker on October 26th.

SIPTU seeks improved scheme to assist healthcare workers impacted by effects of Covid 19

SIPTU, and fellow health unions, are continuing to argue for a replacement scheme to Special Leave with Pay that better protects healthcare workers whose health has been impacted by Covid 19.

Following the decision to restrict the Special Leave with Pay scheme from the 30th of June 2022 to only include Government recommended isolation periods, SIPTU has sought to negotiate a new scheme for healthcare workers who cannot attend work due to a confirmed COVID infection. To date, the HSE and Department of Health has refused to negotiate on a new scheme but instead sought to impose a temporary replacement scheme on the health service.

It is understood that the terms of the replacement scheme have been issued within the HSE. There are several concerns regarding the replacement scheme, including the fact that it only covers a period of 12 months up to the 30th of June 2023 and that it will only cover healthcare workers in certain settings.

SIPTU has raised the fact that Long COVID has been confirmed as an Occupational Disease by the EU Advisory Body on Safety and Health at Work. The Union has also raised a recent case in Scotland in which Long COVID was confirmed as a disability for the purposes of the Equality Act 2010 by the Scottish Employment Tribunal.

SIPTU has argued the need for this dispute to be referred to the Workplace Relations Commission. The HSE and Department of Health are resisting those efforts. They have stated they will publish the circular to allow those covered by it to get the new payments, instead of sick leave, as soon as possible. SIPTU has advised the employers they are doing so without agreement as the Union claim remains to secure a new scheme fitting of all healthcare workers who require it.

SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said “SIPTU’s priority is ensuring that any replacement scheme to Special Leave with Pay will take account of the risks posed by Covid 19 to healthcare workers performing their duties. Health unions have sought to negotiate a new scheme for healthcare workers who cannot attend work due to a confirmed COVID infection. It is our view that the appropriate forum in which to have these discussions is at the Workplace Relations Commission. Unfortunately, the HSE and Department of Health has delayed engaging with us in such a forum. It is important to note that the withdrawal of Special Leave with Pay, and its replacement by an inferior scheme, has taken place at a time in which the World Health Organization’s European office has warned of a “challenging” autumn and winter due to a rise in Covid-19 cases in the region.”

SIPTU meets Minister for Health to discuss role of Radiographers and Radiation Therapists

SIPTU representatives today (Thursday, 26th May) met with the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, to discuss the potential to develop the role of Radiation Therapists and Radiographers in the health service.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “At the meeting we presented the Minister with our members’ vision for the positive development of the role of Radiation Therapists and Radiographers. Advances in technology, education qualifications and state registration present an opportunity for the transformation of the manner in which scans and treatment are prescribed, performed and reported on.”

SIPTU Radiographers and Radiation Therapists National Executive President, Michele Monahan described the meeting as “positive”.

She said: “Our members believe an advancement of their role will ensure that the best use of diagnostic services is secured to the benefit of patients. We look forward to future engagement with the Minister’s office to further expand on proposals for role expansion in the health service which are included in the Programme for Government.”

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell said: “We informed the Minister that we are seeking to deliver sustainable solutions to the challenges health workers face every day within our health service.

“SIPTU has 45,000 members within the Nursing and Midwifery, Allied Health Professionals, National Ambulance Service and Support Grades in the health service. Our members look forward to developing a constructive working relationship with the Minister and his Department.”

Read a copy of the submission here

To download a workplace poster for our CPD day on the 11th of June click here

SIPTU urge all Radiographers and Radiation Therapists to get State registered

All SIPTU members working as Radiographers and Radiation Therapists are being reminded to apply to register with CORU by the October 31st 2015.

SIPTU Sector Organiser, with responsibility for all Allied Health Professionals, Kevin Figgis said: “We are running an awareness campaign throughout October on SIPTUhealth.ie and social media to ensure that no member is left behind when the date closes for State registration on October 31st 2015.

Speaking to SIPTUhealth.ie Mr Figgis said: “State registration is compulsory under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005 for all Radiographers and Radiation Therapists. We believe that professional registration protects patients and the strengths development of professional standards and ethics in the workplace. It underpins the need for registrants to prioritise continuous professional development as well as progressing complaints and fitness to practice.”

Mr Figgis added: “SIPTU will actively campaign throughout October to assist and support our members to register. We will also encourage all Radiographers and Radiation Therapists to join SIPTU and organise to ensure that professional registration is a positive component of their professional development in our health service.”

NMBI CAMPAIGN CONTINUES – STAY UNITED – SUPPORT IS STRONG

SIPTU and other health unions are urging members to stay united and to immediately cancel any direct debit they have with the NMBI if they have not already done so.

Sector Organiser Kevin Figgis said that only after 05th January 2015 members should make a payment of €100 to NMBI but assured any SIPTU member that may be under financial pressures over the Christmas period that making their payment of €100 in January/early February is perfectly fine.

Mr Figgis also confirmed that as part of on-going campaign to stop the unjustified NMBI increase a Workplace Social Media Event has been planned for Wednesday, 17th December which will allow members, in all workplaces across the country, demonstrate their commitment to, and participation in, the campaign.

Mr Figgis also confirmed that over the New Year badges will be sent to allow members to display and confirm that they are registered, have paid their €100 and are participating in this campaign.

“This co-ordinated and strong campaign between SIPTU, INMO and the PNA will allow all union members show mutual solidarity and provide for a visible expression of participation in the campaign,” concluded Mr Figgis.

Note to members

When making this €100 payment, after 05th January, it should be made through one of the following methods;

  • By Cheque; or Postal Order; or Credit Transfer

In relation to payment via credit transfer members should contact their union for the bank account details of NMBI required to organise the €100 payment. Also when making the payment of €100, regardless of which of the three methods used, members should quote their unique NMBI Pin Number and maintain a record of payment.

SIPTU urges Nurses and Midwives to ignore NMBI renewal letter

SIPTU has urged members in the Nurses and Midwifery Sector to ignore the recent renewal letter sent by the NMBI, to continue the campaign of non payment of the unfair registration increase and to make sure that they attend the protest of the NMBI offices on the 18th of November.

Sector Organiser Kevin Figgis said that the protest on the 18th of November outside the NMBI offices in Blackrock, Dublin, is of great importance if SIPTU members are to send the message loud and clear that Nurses and Midwives have had enough and that they are not prepared to pay another unjustified increase or tax on work.

“All our members are advised to make no payment to NMBI, at this time, and await further advice from SIPTU and even at this late stage, we would ask all members, who have not already done so, to immediately cancel their direct debit to NMBI so that no payment in excess of €100 is made.”

Summary

 The two immediate next steps, involving all members, can be summarised as follows:

  • When you receive your renewal notice you are asked to make no payment, at this time. Furthermore members are asked to wait further advice, from your unions, as to when a payment of €100 (the existing fee) should be made maintaining a record of such payment.
  • Members should arrange to attend the public protest at 12.00 noon, outside NMBI HQ, on Tuesday, 18th November 2014.

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