By Sarah Slater
Ambulance crews from across the country have overwhelmingly backed industrial action over their rights to be part of a union.
Scores of members of the union National Ambulance Service Representative (NASRA) claim the HSE refuses to deduct union subscriptions from their payroll.
They have already held a protest outside the National Ambulance Services Central Payroll headquarters in Tullamore, Co Offaly at what they claim is the, “continued refusal of the Health Service Executive to facilitate payroll deductions of union subscriptions for members.”
The union, which is set-up eight years ago, has up to members 600 members almost half of 1,400 paramedics nationwide. The remainder of paramedics are either members of Siptu and Unite trade unions.
Union chiefs have already said, that the protest was held over the deep frustration and anger among the growing number of NASRA members nationally, that their fundamental rights to organise and join were being obstructed by the HSE.
In a ballot conducted nationally over the past two weeks the members voted by nearly 98% in favour of industrial action which will now commence on Tuesday, July 24.
Peter Hughes, the General Secretary of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA), of which NASRA is a union branch, said the decisive outcome of the ballot confirmed the level of anger and frustration by NASRA members at having a basic work right to join the union of their choice denied to them.
“The message to the HSE from this outcome could not be clearer. Ambulance personnel do not accept the arbitrary move taken earlier this year by the HSE to refuse to deduct union subscriptions at source for the growing numbers of ambulance service personnel (including paramedics, advanced paramedics and emergency medical technicians) who wish to join NASRA, and exercise their fundamental right to organise and join the union of their choice.’
The HSE said they were aware of the forthcoming industrial action and that they would be willing to discuss the issues further with the union.
Sinead McGrath, National Chairperson of NASRA added: ‘Eight years on from its formation NASRA is an organised and effective union which has built its membership nationally and represented scores of members in industrial relations and grievance cases.
“It is time for the HSE to wake up and accept the implications of this ballot outcome which clearly says that NASRA members will not allow themselves to be obstructed from joining their union by having a basic workplace right of payroll deductions of union subscriptions denied to them.”