Hospital staff to go on strike

HEALTH workers in Clare will begin an indefinite strike on Monday following the suspension of three employees at Ennis Hospital.

Some 160 SIPTU workers, including nurses and general staff, will take part in the industrial action. The Mid-Western Health Board (MWHB) confirmed it was informed this week SIPTU members employed in Clare mental health services will begin strike action on Monday.

The union insisted it will provide emergency cover. However, the MWHB has had to make arrangements with suppliers to get food to patients during the strike.

And the board said last night the union has not discussed what emergency care will be provided.

“This unprecedented refusal to discuss emergency cover raises concerns about the issue of patient care which is being totally disregarded by the union,” an MWHB spokesperson said. The long-running dispute began after employees from Our Lady’s Hospital in Ennis moved to a new workplace when the hospital closed last March. Three women receptionists who refused to work in an area of Ennis General Hospital on the grounds that their office was unsafe were suspended by the MWHB on Wednesday.

The three were paid by the MWHB for almost six months even though they haven’t worked at the hospital since May 20. The board claims the receptionists abandoned their jobs and were suspended for this. However, SIPTU insists the three female workers, who have 70 years’ service between them, did not walk out on their jobs. “The board refused to allow them to move a few yards up the corridor where they could have worked in a safe environment.”

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