Potential industrial action by thousands of health service staff appears to have been averted after the HSE agreed to re-open a job evaluation scheme from September 1.
Unions insist that job evaluation is an established tool which allows the knowledge, skill, and responsibilities associated with individual jobs — rather than grades or staff categories — to be assessed and appropriately rewarded.
While a job evaluation does not guarantee an upgrading, many health staff believe their roles have grown considerably as they have taken on more work and responsibility over the years.
The scheme was suspended by health service management eight years ago but health unions argued that a core component of the Lansdowne Road Agreement was to lift the suspension.
The union Impact had argued that the evaluation scheme’s eight-year suspension had led to a significant backlog of existing and potential applications from workers who had taken on substantial extra responsibilities as staff numbers fell dramatically during the economic crisis.
A ballot of its members in the health service clerical, administrative, and management grades backed industrial action by 87%.
However, Impact’s head of communications, Bernard Harbor, said the HSE had now not only agreed to accept applications to a reactivated job evaluation scheme, but also accepted the union’s proposals on the method of filling posts upgraded on foot of job evaluations.
“And they have agreed to further talks on the union’s ambition to see the scheme extended to health professional posts and more senior management grades,” he told members on the union’s website.
Mr Harbor said that Impact’s national secretary, Eamonn Donnelly, had written to the HSE to acknowledge the progress.
“But he also warned that industrial action would start on September 12 if management failed to honour this deal, as they did an earlier agreement to reactivate the scheme on June,” he said.
“On the filling of upgraded positions, it has been agreed that staff who have been in post for four years or more at the time of a job evaluation will stay in the position. Other upgraded posts will be filled by competition.”
Impact said it has already trained teams of assessors and it believes that, following the reopening of the scheme on September 1, the first job evaluations could take place from October this year.
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