Five private hospital chains facing strikes over pay cuts

IRELAND’S five largest private hospital chains are set to be targeted by widescale strikes if staff are forced to accept “illegal” pay cuts of between 4%-10%.

In a surprise move yesterday management at the Bon Secours Hospital group, the Mater Private, Mount Carmel, St Vincent’s Private Hospital and the Hermitage Clinic said they were imposing unilateral cuts on all workers from January. The staff salary cuts, which will effect more than 6,500 people, range between 4% and 10%, with hospital management claiming the move is necessary because of expected losses next year from the private health insurance sector.

However, despite the comment both SIPTU and the Irish Nurses Organisation (INO) have responded angrily to the move, with the unions warning it is in breach of existing employment laws and will result in widescale strike action across the sector.

“They are seeking to impose, upon all of their staff, unilateral pay cuts without agreement,” explained INO general secretary, Liam Doran.

“These profitable, private healthcare providers are seeking to capitalise upon the disgraceful and dictatorial action of Government towards its employees, in announcing pay cuts ranging from 4-10% depending on workplace location. None of these employers have attempted to engage their staff’s trade unions, prior to their unilateral declarations, and are instead saying they will impose the pay cuts in breach of all relevant legislation with effect from January 1.

“We are writing to IBEC seeking an immediate meeting pointing out that the actions of these employers are in breach of all agreements, including Towards 2016, and will be convening meetings of our members in order to initiate a ballot for strike action,” he said.

A spokesperson for SIPTU continued that the unilateral pay cuts were in breach of the Payment of Wages Act and indicated that vulnerable public and private sector workers are being forced to endure a series “slash and grab” cutbacks.

News of the reductions emerged after the chief executive of the Bon Secours Hospital group, Pat Lyons, informed 2,300 staff yesterday that anyone on less than €30,000 will see their income cut by 4%, with 5% cuts for those over €30,000.

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