Dublin South West TD, Seán Crowe, has warned that the planned 24-hour strike on 20 June by 10,000 hospital workers, including staff in Tallaght University Hospital, will undoubtedly have a significant and serious impact on the provision of services. The Sinn Féin TD called on the government to engage in meaningful talks with the workers who he described as “the backbone of the health service.”

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“Sinn Féin supports the striking hospital support workers. These workers are the backbone of the health service but are among the lowest paid workers in the sector. They are entirely justified in their call for a pay increase as recommended by a job evaluation process.

“The possibility of a further five days of strikes, on 25 and 26 June and 2, 3 and 4 July will put an enormous strain on the health service, its staff and patients.

“This dispute between health workers and the HSE is over a failure by the HSE to implement pay increases arising from a job evaluation scheme. The health care workers involved include porters, household and catering services, healthcare assistants, maternity care assistants, laboratory aides, chefs, and surgical instrument technicians.

“This threatened strike comes on top of the recent strikes by ambulance staff who belong to the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) who have gone on strike seven times in pursuit of their demand for union recognition. The PNA are also planning a further 24-hour strike sometime this month.

“The HSE claim that recognition of the PNA would impair good industrial relations in the Ambulance Service doesn’t stand up to scrutiny. The denial of workers constitutional right to form or join unions of their choice is what is impairing industrial relations in the health service.

“At the same time, the HSE and Department of Health have introduced a recruitment pause within the health service and the most recent figures released by the INMO showed that 9,015 admitted patients were forced to wait without hospital beds in the month of May. Clearly, there continues to be a serious bed capacity deficit in our hospital system. 

“I believe there is now an onus now on the Government, and in particular Ministers Harris and Donohoe, to take immediate action to resolve these disputes before 20 June – the date of the first strike.

“The decision by the Department of Public Expenditure to refer the issue to the Public Service Stability Agreement Oversight Group gives no reassurance that these matters are being treated with the urgency that is so blatantly required.”