Up to 500 ambulance staff nationwide are to hold a fifth strike tomorrow in a stand-off with the HSE over their right to be represented by a trade union of their choice.
This strike action is a further escalation in the campaign by ambulance personnel as they do want to join a trade union the HSE wants them to.
The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) ambulance branch members, National Ambulance Service Representative (NASRA) strike which includes paramedics, advanced paramedics and emergency medical technicians, follows on from four days of strike action held on January 22, February 15, 28 and March 1.
Peter Hughes, PNA General Secretary said ambulance personnel members brought their protest to the Dail last week, and with their strike action tomorrow they are sending a clear message to the HSE that they are not prepared to have the fundamental right to join and be represented by the union of their choice denied to them.
“Tomorrow’s strike and the further strike day in ten days time is avoidable if the HSE will stop its unprecedented opposition to allowing 500 ambulance personnel to be represented by PNA - a trade union with over 40 years’ experience in representing workers within the health and social care services
“It is time for the HSE to respond to three separate Workplace Relations Commission ( WRC) invitations to attend talks to resolve this dispute through industrial relations procedures and not through confrontation or legal threats.”
Mr Hughes added: “Since it was established in 2010, hundreds of frontline ambulance personnel have made their decision to join PNA ambulance branch which now represents more members by far than at least one of the two unions recognised by the HSE for frontline paramedics.
It is inexplicable that the HSE is continuing to attempt to ignore and frustrate the wishes of these frontline staff to be members of the PNA.
However, a health watchdog has said that patients must not be used as “pawns” in the ramped up row between ambulance crews and the HSE.
Irish Patients Association (IPA) spokesperson Stephen McMahon has hit out about the impasse between the PNA and HSE.
“Patients must not be used as pawns in any industrial dispute by any party. It seems that this (row) is about union recognition but surely patients should not be exposed to any type of danger because of this,” said Mr McMahon.
“Once again healthcare is caught in an industrial relations swamp. Patients cannot be allowed to suffer in any way.”