Hospital support staff call off imminent strike

Hospital support staff who were due to go on strike on Monday have called it off after an agreement was reached with the HSE.

Around 10,000 staff which included healthcare assistants, porters, cleaners and catering staff had voted to take strike action in a dispute over job evaluations, interns and arrangements in emergency departments.

However, a work-to-rule by 35,000 nurses around the country is still due to go ahead on the same day.

Siptu's Paul Bell said: "We have made significant progress on the issue of job evaluation and this process will commence immediately.

"With regard to the issue of incremental credit for support staff interns it has been agreed that this matter will be considered in the context of the forthcoming public sector pay negotiations."

He added that the issue of concessions for emergency department workers will return to the Labour Court.

He said: "Disappointingly, we were unable to make sufficient progress in our negotiations to secure the concessions granted to nursing staff, assigned to emergency departments in acute hospitals throughout the State, in January 2015 were extended to all other health workers committed to working in the same tough environment.

"However, I believe that the decision to have this element of our dispute referred to the Labour Court for binding arbitration is the best way forward for all stakeholders, which includes the public who would have been unavoidably disrupted by the proposed strike action."

The Minister for Health Simon Harris has welcomed the decision, saying: "I am pleased that the threat of action on the 7th of March has been averted and welcome the understanding reached between the HSE and Siptu.

"I believe that the best way to resolve issues is by engagement through industrial relations mechanisms and I am very glad to see that this process has led to the right outcome for staff and patients."

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