SIPTU health division organiser Paul Bell has said that the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure “has no credibility.”
Responding to comments made by the Minister on RTÉ Radio's Morning Ireland calling for both sides to resolve the issue in either the Labour Court or the Workplace Relations Commission, Mr Bell said that the Labour Court was not appropriate.
The Workplace Relations Commission was more suitable he said, as the matter of evaluations and payment had been settled previously in the WRC in 2018.
“The WRC could remind the parties what was signed up to.
“We cannot resolve this issue on our own,” he added.
The agreement about the job evaluation process dated back years, said Mr Bell. Issues such as who would be evaluated, when they would be evaluated and where they would be evaluated had been settled in the previous WRC document in October 2018.
“Not everybody who puts themselves forward will get a pay grade when evaluated.”
The Minister’s comment that he could not get involved in a discussion about penalties on the eve of a dispute was dismissed by Mr Bell who said the Minister had not implemented penalties in other public service disputes.
Mr Bell warned that if any penalties are taken against their members, the union reserved the right to escalate the dispute. The agreement was being torn up and the unions were expected to “rock up to sign another one.”
The Department (of Public Expenditure) was trying “to anger manage this dispute” he claimed.
This is the straw that the Government wants to break the camel’s back, to make an example, added Mr Bell.
“This dispute has been in the offing since 2016. This is not a strike against patients it is against the employer. We’re conscious of the chaos that can be caused by a strike, but there comes a point at which you have to strike.
“The Government knows what the ask is.”