Update 5.08pm: The deferral of a three-day strike next week by 10,000 health service support staff is “good news” for patients, says Health Minister, Simon Harris.
Trade union, Siptu, said the industrial action has been suspended pending the outcome of a Labour Court hearing.
Mr Harris tweeted that it is “welcome news” that the Siptu strike planned for next week has been deferred and that a full Labour Court hearing will now take place.
“Good news for patients. Provides space and opportunity for resolution,” he wrote.
The union said strikes in 38 hospitals across the country planned for next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday have been deferred.
The court hearing on the implementation of a job evaluation scheme has been set for Wednesday, July 3.
Siptu health division organiser, Paul Bell, said the strike action was deferred at the request of the Labour Court to allow for a full hearing to take place with no preconditions.
“The unity and strength of our members on picket lines this week has demonstrated our determination to achieve a just resolution to this dispute,” said Mr Bell.
“Ultimately, our members will decide on the outcome of any recommendations that emerged from negotiations at the Labour Court, by way of a secret ballot.”
He added: “On behalf of our members, SIPTU representatives would also like to thank hospital patients and members of the public for the huge support shown to 10,000 health workers on picket lines this week and throughout the dispute.”
The Labour Court began a preliminary hearing on Friday in an attempt to divert next week's strike action. It comes after catering staff, porters, cleaners and technicians manned picket lines earlier this week.
The dispute emerged between workers and the HSE over what SIPTU claims is a failure to implement increases in pay for workers after a job evaluation scheme deemed the staff were underpaid.
The HSE said that more than 2,000 patients had appointments cancelled, including surgical procedures, scope procedures and outpatient appointments across 38 hospitals and healthcare facilities.
Update 1.10pm by Vivienne Clarke: Three days of strikes by 10,000 health workers next week have been deferred at the request of the Labour Court.
SIPTU representatives confirmed this afternoon that strikes planned in 38 selected hospitals for next week have been deferred.
The decision was made pending the outcome of a full Labour Court hearing next Wednesday on the implementation of a job evaluation scheme.
SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “At the request of the Labour Court, SIPTU representatives have agreed to defer strike action scheduled to start next Tuesday to allow for a full hearing to take place with no preconditions.
"Ultimately, our members will decide on the outcome of any recommendations that emerge from negotiations at the Labour Court, by way of a secret ballot.”
“On behalf of our members, SIPTU representatives would also like to thank hospital patients and members of the public for the huge support shown to 10,000 health workers on picket lines this week and throughout this dispute.”
Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy welcomed SIPTU’s plan to withdraw strike notice for three days next week during discussions at the Labour Court.
He told RTÉ Radio’s News at One that the news “sounded like a positive development” and was good news for patients.
When asked about the possibility of the Department of Public Expenditure paying the increased wages following evaluations, he said that would put increased pressure on public spending.
This money was not the Government’s money, he said.
“It is the taxpayers’ money. It is not a bottomless pit.”
Update 12.20pm: SIPTU says the government has broken a number of agreements with health workers.
Both sides are attending a hearing at the Labour Court after no progress was made in talks yesterday.
10,000 support staff are due to go on strike for three days next week if no resolution can be found in the dispute.
SIPTU's Paul Bell explained some of their priorities going into today's hearing.
"We are trying to make sure that we come out of this with a settlement that is acceptable to our members
"We are also trying to concentrate on minimising the impact on patients.
"We are very conscious of the fact, as are our members, that a three-day dispute in the health service will be very devastating."
- Digital desk
Update 7am: All sides involved in the health workers' dispute will go to the Labour Court this morning.
The HSE and Siptu failed to reach an agreement yesterday in talks with the Workplace Relations Commission.
10,000 health support staff are involved in a row over pay.
A preliminary hearing will take place in the Labour Court this morning to try to resolve the dispute.
But Siptu's Paul Bell says next week's three-day strike has not been called off.
Mr Bell told RTÉ Radio’s Morning Ireland that the process had been “torturous” and that while all issues had been discussed, it had been obvious there would be no agreement.
“There was minimal movement.”
The dispute centres on a job evaluation scheme, which the Government agreed to carry out during negotiations on the last Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA).
The job evaluations were to examine whether roles have changed and whether pay rises are warranted.
Affected grades include health care assistants, maternity care assistants, laboratory aides, chefs, and surgical instrument technicians, as well as workers in portering, household and catering services.
Mr Bell said the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform was “set against” some key elements of the agreement including the interpretation of the job evaluation agreement.
He said that the union will listen to what the Labour Court has to say, but that in the meantime the plan is still in place to go ahead with three days of strikes next week.
- Additional reporting by Digital Desk