‘Pushy’ bosses delay psychiatric nurses’ ballot at CUH

A ballot has been deferred on LRC proposals designed to end a row that has kept a new €15m psychiatric unit closed following claims that managers are leaning on staff to vote in favour of the proposals.

The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA), which represents some of the staff due to transfer to the unit at Cork University Hospital (CUH), said they had deferred the ballot principally because members felt they were being pressurised to vote a certain way.

“Some of the local managers are pressurizing staff to vote in favour of the proposals,” said Des Kavanagh, PNA general secretary.

While a date for the ballot of PNA members has not been issued it is expected to be held this week.

Mr Kavanagh’s claim of management putting pressure on staff was supported by members of Siptu.

Siptu shop steward Des McSweeney, himself a psychiatric nurse, said they had also had reports of members being targeted to rubberstamp the LRC proposals.

“They come to work to do their job, not to be pressurised by management,” said Mr McSweeney.

He said the local Siptu committee had decided to ballot its members today “because we are afraid that prolonging the ballot date will result in more pressure and stress on the members”.

However, the HSE rejected any claims of leaning on staff, saying in a statement that there was “absolutely no question of management pressurising staff on how to vote on the LRC proposals”.

The statement said the HSE “remains fully committed to utilising all of the available industrial relations machinery in order to resolve these issues” and to allow services transfer to the new purpose-built unit as soon as is possible.

“The HSE always respects the agreed IR processes and would encourage any staff member who feels they are being pressurised in any way to bring their concerns to the Human Resource Department,” the statement said.

Earlier in the dispute, Mr McSweeney was put off work with pay by HSE managers after highlighting what he saw as deficits in the plans for operating the new unit.

The unit at CUH was due to open in January but remains closed as efforts continue to address outstanding union concerns.

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