Ambulance crews nationwide to ramp up industrial action next week

Paramedics are to ramp up industrial action next week over what they claim is the continued refusal by the HSE to engage in negotiations to recognise or deal with their union.

Ambulance crews nationwide to ramp up industrial action next week

By Sarah Slater

Paramedics are to ramp up industrial action next week over what they claim is the continued refusal by the HSE to engage in negotiations to recognise or deal with their union.

The industrial action, being carried out by ambulance paramedics, advanced paramedics and emergency medical technicians, began early last month after a High Court injunction threatened by the HSE earlier this year against the ambulance crews who are part of the union National Ambulance Service Representative (NASRA) forced them to halt their plans.

NASRA, also claims that the HSE continues to refuse to deduct union subscriptions from their payroll.

Next Wednesday’s industrial unrest means that some 500 branch members of the PNA ambulance personnel branch (NASRA) will refuse to work additional shifts or overtime nationally.

Scores of Ambulance staff protested outside HSE offices at Dr Steevens’ Hospital Dublin over the issue.

Speaking at the protest, PNA General Secretary, Mr Peter Hughes accused the HSE of showing contempt for the clear wishes of ambulance personnel to be members of and represented by the PNA.

He said: “For the HSE to refuse to accept that ambulance personnel throughout the country want to be members of the PNA shows total contempt for the wishes of these front-line workers, who must have the right to be members of the union of their choice.

“Ambulance personnel made a decision in 2010 to come within the PNA as a member-driven and led official branch of the Union.

“That PNA branch (the National Ambulance Service Representative Association- NASRA) has grown its membership consistently since its formation and has successfully represented scores of members in industrial relations and grievance cases."

He added: "The refusal now of the HSE to engage with our ambulance personnel branch, or to facilitate the payroll deduction of union subscriptions from NASRA members, amounts to nothing short of an effort to dictate which union ambulance personnel should be members of and frustrate the continued development of the NASRA branch.

Ambulance personnel have taken a stand to protect their rights. The HSE must resolve this dispute to avoid the escalation of industrial action next week.

The HSE said it was “keeping a watching brief” on the ongoing issue.

However, Chairperson of the NASRA branch of PNA, Sinead McGrath called on the Minister for Health Simon Harris to, “demand that the HSE step back from triggering this escalation in the industrial action and move as a matter of urgency to address the issues at the core of the dispute".

"PNA/NASRA members were left with no other option but to embark on industrial action to protect their fundamental employee rights to representation.

“As dedicated and committed front-line professionals of the health and emergency services, their decision to embark on industrial action, and to escalate it next week, to secure their rights to representation by the union of their choice, was not taken lightly.”

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