SIPTU criticise Government for announcing judiciary pay increase when health workers were on strike

SIPTU criticise Government for announcing judiciary pay increase when health workers were on strike
SIPTU HSE health strike. Pictured today speaking to the media is Paul Bell SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser with HSE support staff on strike outside Mater Hospital, after talks at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) aimed at resolving a dispute on job evaluation concluded without an agreement. Photograph: RollingNews.ie

SIPTU divisional organiser Paul Bell has criticised the Government for its political judgment in announcing an increase in wages for the judiciary on the same day that lower paid public servants were on strike.

"Monies were found to pay high levels of salaries on a day when low paid we're trying to get a pay increase that had already been agreed," he told RTE radio's Today with Sean O'Rourke show.

It was the approach of the Department of Public Expenditure that led to Wednesday’s strike by health support workers at 38 sites around the country, he added.

"We will go to the WRC today because we were invited," he said. The WRC had indicated that there is scope to move on and to reach a conclusion on four to five issues. This would indicate a change in attitude by the Government, he added.

"There is no need for further interpretation on Circular 1071. Job evaluation has been accepted by the HSE and the Department of Health. It is now up to the Department of Expenditure."

When asked why SIPTU was refusing to go to the Labour Court, Mr Bell said the union "was not going to allow any employer dictate that the WRC be an automatic gateway to the Labour Court."

He said that at least three issues were not discussed at the WRC last week at the conciliation phase.

Talks resume to prevent three-day strike by health workers

Talks will resume today in an attempt to prevent another three days of strikes by health-workers next week.

Strikers on the picket. Picture: Provision
Strikers on the picket. Picture: Provision

Over 10,000 staff - including chefs, porters and cleaners - will complete 24 hours of industrial action at 8pm this morning.

They are involved in a dispute with the HSE over a job-evaluation scheme and pay.

Both sides return to the Workplace Relations Commission today, but Siptu's Paul Bell says there is no resolution in sight.

He said: "What brings us back to the WRC today is an acceptance of an invitation and we do hope that there will be some progress.

"But, that will depend on a change of attitude of the employer and especially the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform.

"If the same approach is taken with us in the negotiation I feel there will be no progress made and the dispute will continue on into next week."

Meanwhile, staff picketing at St. James's Hospital in Dublin have said industrial action is not being taken lightly.

One striking worker said: "We don't want to be here because we're dealing with patients and it's just so unfair that the Government have us out here."

Another man said: "My message is to pay up and we'll go back to our work...the last thing we want is patients suffering."

"Operations have been cancelled...everything has been cancelled, and it's the Governments fault, not anybody else's," said one woman.

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