THE HSE is outsourcing services to avoid the recruitment embargo, but is paying more for the agency staff than if the work was carried out by its own employees, it has been claimed.
Speaking at the IMPACT trade union’s health and welfare conference in Tralee, national secretary Louise O’Donnell said when VAT and the fee per shift for each agency worker was taken into account it could be cheaper to use direct labour.
“I understand that the HSE and other health employers are using external labour to avoid the red tape of the recruitment moratorium,” she said.
“But while this achieves the numerical drop in numbers, it is costing the taxpayer to keep the services running.”
Ms O’Donnell was speaking in favour of a motion calling for an end to the use of outsourcing to directly or indirectly replace health service staff.
Also at the conference IMPACT warned that “widespread” unpaid graduate internships in the health service could introduce unnecessary risks to patients, particularly in the clinical setting, while at the same time exploiting vulnerable young workers.
Adrienne Byrne, a social worker in child protection, said the union had come across a case in Cork in which a business student was taken on by the HSE and was assigned to cover the work of a clerical officer on maternity leave.
“The work was not relevant to the graduate’s business degree so IMPACT objected.
“It was a shameless exploitation of the graduate involved. No pay, no relevant experience, just free labour,” she said.
She said the line between meaningful supervised internship and wholesale exploitation of free labour is easily crossed.
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