More than 500 ambulance service personnel belonging to the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) will be on strike again today as the dispute over trade union representation rights intensifies.
The staff, who are members of the National Ambulance Service (NAS), were on strike for 10 hours last month.
There will be two consecutive strike days on Thursday, February 28, and Friday, March 1, if the matter is not settled by then.
PNA general secretary Peter Hughes said the strike days demonstrate their resolve to be represented by the union of their choice, not one that the HSE wants to force them to join.
The HSE said the NAS recognises the trade unions Siptu, Unite, and Fórsa as representatives for its staff.
It said the principle of engaging only with recognised trade unions had been acknowledged previously by the Labour Court in a dispute involving the PNA and a different public sector employer.
“With this in mind, NAS will stand by the agreements that it has made with recognised unions and will not undermine those agreements by engaging with other associations or unions,” said the HSE.
The NAS has made preparations for today’s strike so the service and care delivery is not compromised in any way.
Siptu, the union that represents most front-line staff, expects its members to work as normal.
The PNA has also confirmed that it will not be calling on members of other trade unions to participate in the strike.
Managers who are qualified paramedics will be carrying out front-line duties and the Department of Defence has made a number of crewed ambulances available for Friday.
The PNA said emergency cover will be provided where necessary.
The NAS said it is committed to ensuring that there is a safe service provided today, “as every day”, but their preference would be for the action to be averted.
The PNA and other parties involved in the psychiatric nurses’ dispute will attend a full Labour Court hearing today.
The union suspended further strike action on Monday after the court intervened.