Unions issue strike notice to Mater Private

SIPTU and the Irish Nurses and Midwives Union (INMO) have served a strike notice on the Mater Private Hospital in Dublin which could effectively close the hospital down.

The unions are also balloting in other private hospitals, including those run by the Bon Secours and Mount Carmel groups, with further strikes announcements expected.

The unions say they have decided to press ahead with a strike in the Mater Private because of management’s decision to impose pay cuts of 5% to 7.5% on staff salaries in line with the cuts in the public service announced in the budget.

Strike action will commence on February 1 and the union has asked the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) for an all-out strike mandate. This would mean every unionised worker, including administrators and lower management grades, would be obliged to strike.

In the meantime, according to SIPTU health sector organiser, Paul Bell, the unions will hold a picket at the hospital on Wednesday in protest at the pay deductions which, he said, were imposed without any agreement or negotiation.

“The Mater Private is a profitable company and has refused to enter any meaningful dialogue with SIPTU on these pay cuts, which are unnecessary and will be firmly resisted,” he said.

Mr Bell said strike notice was served because of the failure of management to negotiate with the unions as required under existing agreements with SIPTU and other unions at the hospital.

“The focus of our dispute is the failure of management to negotiate with the unions as required by existing agreements regarding wage rates and security of employment,” he said.

He said the Mater Private is acting in conjunction with the Bon Secours and Mount Carmel private hospital groups which plan to impose similar pay cuts.

“Ballots for strike action are ongoing in these hospitals nationally and strike notice will be served in due course,” Mr Bell said.

Meanwhile, lower paid civil servants will today be first to take official industrial action against the December budget which saw their pay cut by up to 7%.

The workers, members of the Civil, Public and Services Union will take several forms of action, including work-to-rules, withdrawal of lunch-time cover and refusal to work overtime.

Other unions are due to start their industrial action from January 25. The Irish Congress of Trade Unions executive is to hold a full-day think-in in Dublin tomorrow to plan how to escalate the action from next month.

Unions have indicated that from February 1 they will escalate the action “in order to increase the level of disruption to government and management systems”.

That is likely to mean sectoral strikes in Government offices hospitals, schools and Government offices.

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