Statement by the National Executive Council of SIPTU on the proposed ‘Lansdowne Road Agreement’ on pay in the public service

The National Executive Council of SIPTU met today (Friday, 5th June) to consider the proposals for an agreement on pay in the public service. Having considered the details it was decided to recommend them for acceptance by the union’s membership.

It was concluded that they represent reasonable progress towards the objective of recovering pay lost following the economic collapse of 2008. The union’s target of reducing the effect of the pension levy has also been addressed. The pay improvements would apply from a date six months earlier than that envisaged in the Haddington Road Agreement. These together with the significant measures, outlined in the proposal, to strengthen the protections against outsourcing would be important steps towards rebuilding decent standards of employment in the public service.

The proposal is structured in a manner that is consistent with the commitment in the Croke Park and Haddington Road Agreements which emphasises the position of the lower paid. Meanwhile, the reinstatement of lost pay for those on salaries in excess of €65,000 per annum is also reiterated.

Progress has also been made otherwise on the non-pay agenda. In this regard other commitments such as those relating to regularising the position of low paid interns in the Health Service are also welcome. Provisions envisaging engagement on anomalies affecting particular categories and groups such as General Operatives and related grades in the Dublin Local Authority area offer a way forward after a long impasse.

It may well be that State revenue returns for this year could exceed expectations. Equally, we cannot predict the rate of inflation over the later half of the tenure of the proposed agreement. However, it would be unwise to reject this proposal as the prospect of any additional benefit from re-negotiation would be out-weighted by the danger of forfeiture of some of the key elements envisaged in it.

In any event if the proposal is accepted it is expected that negotiations on a successor would take place during 2017.

Accordingly all things being considered the National Executive Council of the union recommends acceptance in a secret ballot vote to be completed by Thursday, 23rd July, following a period of extensive membership consultation and information.

SIPTU National Executive Council

Read full agreement here

Important NMBI update

Following on from our successful campaign of resisting the retention fee increase the NMBI have released an important update.

In the statement they refer to a recent meeting with Dr Maura Pidgeon. It concerns the consideration of removal from the Register for non-payment of Annual Retention Fee fee 2015 by the Board of NMBI at their scheduled meeting on Tuesday 26th May 2015.

Please see below statement.

“The Board of the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland (NMBI) will be considering the removal of names from the Register of Nurses and Midwives for non-payment of the Annual Retention Fee (ARF) at its scheduled Board meeting on 26th May 2015.

Reminder notices were issued on 9th April 2015 to those nurses and midwives who did not pay their ARF for 2015.   If you have still not paid this fee and you are actively engaged in the practice of nursing/midwifery (including clinical practise, education, management or research ) NMBI have requested that you ensure your fee is paid prior to 26th May 2015. Otherwise you run the risk of having your name removed from the Register for non-payment and will not be able to practise nursing/midwifery until your name is restored to the Register.

If you already paid this fee directly into the NMBI bank account and did not provide your PIN at the time of payment your fee could not be allocated to your NMBI record,   as advised in the Reminder Notice you need to act immediately.   You should urgently contact NMBI Accounts Department at accounts@NMBI.ie providing all relevant details,( eg date of payment, PIN and any other relevant reference details) to ensure your payment is allocated to your account prior to the Board of NMBI considering the removal of names from the Register on 26th May 2015.”

Public Service negotiations commence

SIPTU representatives are about to enter discussions with public service employers for the restoration of pay for union members who have suffered severe reductions in income over the past number of years.

SIPTU will also seek the alleviation of the Pension Levy imposed on all members in the public service during this time.

Other issues, including the ending of the moratorium on recruitment and the consequent out-sourcing of many public service jobs, will also feature in these discussions.

In addition, there are a number of sectoral matters involving our members in health, education, local authorities and state related bodies which need to be addressed to our satisfaction.

The negotiations will commence at 2.30 p.m. today (Tuesday 19th May) at Lansdowne House, Dublin 4, under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission and are expected to continue for some weeks.

To see Paul Bell outline SIPTU position on pay talks please log in to SIPTUhealth Plus

Unions win campaign to reverse NMBI fee increase

SIPTU members support the decision of the Nurses and Midwives Board of Ireland (NMBI) to end its attempt to increase its annual retention fee, for nurses and midwives, by 50% for 2015.

Sector Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “This decision by NMBI comes after many months of campaigning by SIPTU, INMO and the PNA members calling on the Board to reverse its decision to increase its retention fee from €100 to €150. It is a victory for nurses and midwives across the country.

“Our members from across the health service have been united on this issue from the start. This victory is a testament to their solidarity and determination to see the campaign through until the end. Our members have had to do more work for less pay over the last number years, they decided that this additional tax on their work was a step too far.

“The campaign against this attempted fee hike has ensured that their regulatory body will treat them fairly and not subject them to increased charges in addition to the pay cuts they have endured in recent years.”

SIPTU Nurses and Midwives Sector Chairperson, Rebecca Donoghue, said: “I thank all SIPTU members for the support they have shown to our nurses and midwives across the country.

“We could not have won this campaign without the support and efforts of our colleagues. The €100 fee is a just fee as it retains the link with the fee paid by other health professionals to their regulatory body.”

NMBI Board to consider unions’ position on fees

The Nurses and Midwives Board of Ireland (NMBI) is considering a demand that it reverse a decision to implement a 50% increase in its retention fee following a meeting between its senior staff and union representatives on Thursday, 5th February.

SIPTU Nursing Sector Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “At the meeting representatives of the three health unions, absolutely and repeatedly, reaffirmed our view that the retention fee, levied by NMBI, must be maintained at the current €100 rate.

“The NMBI team, noting our absolute position with regard to the €100 fee being restored, said that it would be taking the outcome of the meeting, and specifically our position with regard to a €100 retention fee, back to the Board at a meeting scheduled for next Monday, 9th February. The Board’s negotiating team indicated that they would revert back to the unions on Tuesday, 10th February, to provide us with the Board’s decision on this matter.He added: “In the interim we stress that members should pay the €100 fee when their personal circumstance allows.  Please note a record should be kept, of any payment, and your PIN number should be submitted with the €100 payment.”

SIPTU supports move to ensure Home Helps have at least 30 minutes with clients

SIPTU supports a decision of the Emergency Department Taskforce to ensure Home Helps have a minimum of 30 minutes with each client in which essential care can be provided.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “The SIPTU Home Helps campaign for additional hours and the full utilisation of their existing contracted hours has succeded in securing this key improvement for clients.

“This move will allow hospitals to successfully discharge more patients, assured that they will be provided with a proper standard of care in the community. If this decision had been made prior to Christmas it would have reduced the impact of overcrowding in our hospital network.”

Paul Bell also called for further action to end the practice by some private nursing home operators of  “cherry-picking” patients for accommodation and requesting additional fees for admission.

He said: “This issue has developed due to successive governments failing to invest in public nursing home faculties. This has allowed private sector providers to gain a monopoly position which some are now abusing by selecting patients and levying addition charges.”

The decision to allow Home Helps a minimum of 30 minutes with patients was made at a meeting of the Emergency Department Taskforce in Dr. Steeven’s Hospital, Dublin, this afternoon (2nd February).

The taskforce comprises relevant stakeholders including senior doctors, lead hospital consultants, HSE National Directors, union representatives and senior officials from the HSE Acute Hospitals Directorate and the Department of Health.

Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, convened the Taskforce on 22nd December 2014, to find long-term solutions to the issue of hospital overcrowding.

SIPTU to attend NMBI talks

SIPTU has accepted an invitation to enter into talks with the Nurses and Midwives Board of Ireland (NMBI) on Thursday 5th of February.

SIPTU Nursing Sector Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said following Minister for Health Leo Varadkar’s recent request that the NMBI, and the three nursing unions, meet to discuss solutions to the current deadlock.

“The purpose of this meeting is to discuss, and agree, a framework for discussions, involving an independent third party chair if necessary, in an effort to resolve the current dispute,” said Kevin Figgis

He also said that the campaign will continue and advised SIPTU members to only pay €100 to the NMBI, when their personal circumstance allows, as previously advised.

“This new initiative, to resolve the current dispute, comes about as a direct result of the success of our hard fought campaign of resistance and I thank all members and the public for their support”

NMBI must answer questions on fee increase

The Nurses and Midwives Board of Ireland (NMBI) is being asked by its members to justify, with supporting evidence, why its fees have increased by 80% during a period when their take home pay has been reduced twice.

SIPTU Nursing Sector Organiser, Kevin Figgis, said: “Our union is requesting that Nurses and Midwives send a letter to the NMBI outlining their concerns on the increase and demanding reasons how it can be justified at a time when their pay has decreased dramatically and their working week has increased.

“Our members need concrete answers from the NMBI as to why this increase has come about and for transparency in how the NMBI spends the millions of euro collected in existing fees.  A template letter has been drafted for members to personalise and send to NMBI.”

This letter can be downloaded at siptu.ie. NMBI is currently attempting to increase members’ retention fees from €100 to €150 for 2015.

Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar met with NMBI on Thursday, 29th January and further engagement, between NMBI and the unions is scheduled.

“We are pleased that the Minister continues to engage with the unions and the NMBI with a view to finding a solution. The campaign against this fee hike is growing day by day and our members are continuing to circulate, and wear, the registration badges, confirming their involvement in the campaign with pride,” Kevin Figgis said.

SIPTU calls for immediate release of HSE ambulance capacity review

SIPTU has called on the HSE to immediately release a capacity review of the National Ambulance Service that was commissioned last year following concerns raised by workers that the service is inadequately resourced.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “The capacity review into the National Ambulance Service must be released immediately and discussed at the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health as a matter of priority. 

“Our members have been deeply concerned about the direction of the ambulance service and demanded a capacity review from the Government in February 2014. From the reports we have seen our concerns are completely vindicated.

“We are short 290 highly skilled ambulance professionals who are needed to give life saving treatment to sick and vulnerable citizens. This is unacceptable. Reports in the media today drawing on an independent review of the ambulance service suggest that the key performance indicators set out by HIQA in 2011 were unrealistic and flawed due to the failure to carry out a full capacity review before they were set.

Paul Bell added: “If the National Ambulance Service is to function at the level that HIQA is demanding, and the public deserve, then the Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, needs to invest in recruitment, resources and conduct a review into how to develop an effective strategy for community first responses.” 

“The time has come for the Government to stop moving from one health crisis to another. It needs to provide leadership and the public with confidence that the National Ambulance Service is safe, fully resourced and fit for purpose.

SIPTU calls on health workers to join Dáil demonstration

SIPTU has called on all health workers to attend an emergency demonstration outside Leinster House, Kildare Street, Dublin, on Wednesday, 14th January at 12.00 p.m.

SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “In response to the ongoing overcrowding crisis in hospital accident and emergency departments throughout the country SIPTU Health Division members are being asked to attend this demonstration with their colleagues in the other health service unions”.

He added: “The demonstration will highlight health service workers deep concerns about the safety and care of their patients, as well as the unacceptable working conditions being experienced by staff. This protest is taking place on the first sitting day of the Dáil in 2015. We believe it is the duty of health workers to make politicians aware of their anger at the treatment of the hundreds of patients lying on trolleys in accident and emergency departments across the country”.

SIPTU Health workers are requested to assembly at Liberty Hall, Dublin 1, on Wednesday 14th January, at 11.15 a.m. and walk to the demonstration at the entrance of Leinster House, Kildare Street. The demonstration will commence at 12.00 p.m. and finish at 2.00 p.m.