If talks bring no proposals, hospital strikes to go ahead

A STRIKE at Dublin’s seven main hospitals on April 7 will go ahead if firm proposals on the issues of public service pay and the outsourcing of jobs have not emerged from talks between unions and government officials which began yesterday.

However ICTU president Jack O’Connor said that no escalation in the current public sector industrial action was “envisaged” while the talks, scheduled to conclude at the end of next week, are in progress.

Mr O’Connor said; “Strike notices stand, no action has been deferred, no action has been stood down, no notice has been amended, no notice has been withdrawn but we will not be escalating while the talks are ongoing.”

He added but “there will have to be conclusions and outcomes” prior to April 7.

This means if the basis for an agreement has not emerged at talks by that date the 48-hour strike by hospital porters, security and care assistants will go ahead.

Yesterday’s talks at the Labour Relations Commission in Dublin dealt with the civil service.

Arriving at the talks Public Service Executive Union general secretary Tom Gergerty said talks negotiators are in for “a rough few weeks”.

Also at the LRC Civil and Public Service Union general secretary Blair Horan, denied that his union’s overtime ban which began yesterday constituted an escalation of industrial action but was rather a continuation of an existing work to rule campaign.

Union leaders and government officials had already reached agreement on a wide range of issues in December’s aborted talks and it is believed progress to the key points of contentions could be made by the end of this week.

If progress is being made the talks will extend beyond the two weeks of intensive negotiations announced by LRC chief executive Kieran Mulvey last Friday.

SIPTU, is undertaking a consultation process with its members over the coming days on a new phase of individual action if the talks process does not reach agreement.

The hospitals strike emerges from problems with the outsourcing of jobs to private agencies.

Negotiations between SIPTU and hospital management could separately see a conclusion to this dispute prior to April 7.

Today the Garda representatives organisations will be among the groups attending the LRC talks. The Garda representative Association, which represents rank and file members of the force, is not recognised as a trade union and as such is outside of ICTU. The GRA plans to escalate its activities to include a mobile phone use ban next Monday, March 22.

SIPTU members protested outside Mount Carmel Hospital for a second day yesterday over pay cuts.

The union says cuts of 4%-6% were imposed on staff at the hospital without any consultation.

Strike notice has been served on the hospital for next Monday on behalf of a number of unions.

The action will involve workers including radiographers, laboratory scientists, nursing and clerical staff.

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