Ambulance staff will hold the first of several planned 24 hour strikes next week over demands to be represented by the union of their choice.
Roughly 500 ambulance personnel who are members of the Psychiatric Nurses Association will stage a 24 hour strike on Friday, May 31 for the right to be represented by the PNA.
The HSE currently does not recognise the PNA or its associated branch, the National Ambulance Service Representative Association, as representative of ambulance personnel.
The PNA has said that the first strike will take place from 7am on May 31 through to 7am on June 1, with further 24 hour strikes to be announced in the coming weeks.
Earlier this month ambulance personnel from around the country staged a protest in front of Leinster House on May 15 calling for the right to be represented by the union of their choice.
Prior to this in January PNA members held six hour work stoppages and engaged in work to rule, with the HSE deploying qualified managers and military personnel to plug the gap.
Peter Hughes, PNA General Secretary said that this escalation in industrial action is of the HSE’s making for refusing to engage with them.
“It has become very clear that not alone has the HSE refused to engage in the normal industrial relations protocol of agreeing contingency plans for our previous strike days, but it has also exploited the professionalism and dedication of ambulance personnel to ensure that ambulance services are provided even in a strike situation.”
“HSE management have sat back and placed the responsibility of maintaining ambulance cover on our members. As we move to 24 hour strikes it is incumbent on the HSE to comply with custom and practice and negotiate contingency arrangements for the planned 24-hour strike days.”
Mr Hughes said that the demands of the 500 PNA members for representation has strong cross party support in the Dáil.
However, despite Health Minister Simon Harris’ comments that he wishes this referred to the Workplace Relations Commission he has not been able to get the HSE to cooperate Peter Hughes said.
“It should now be a priority for the new HSE Director General, Paul Reid, to bring this dispute to an end, and stop trying to force ambulance personnel into unions that they have made it clear they are not prepared to be members of.”
“Mr Reid has an opportunity to end this dispute which is impacting on performance and morale within the ambulance services – a vital area of frontline health services.”
The HSE has said that healthcare personnel already have adequate union representations, with the National Ambulance Service recognising Siptu, Forsa, and Unite for frontline staff.
Ambulance staff in Siptu and other unions are not part of this industrial action.