Frustration mounts as thousands still await pandemic worker bonus

Frustration mounts as thousands still await pandemic worker bonus

Alliance of seven health unions has called on Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to intervene in  delays to giving the Pandemic Recognition Payment to non-HSE health staff. File picture

An alliance of seven health unions has called on Health Minister Stephen Donnelly to intervene in delays to giving the Pandemic Recognition Payment to non-HSE health staff.

The bonus of €1,000 was announced in January. However, HSE officials addressing delays at the Oireachtas health committee were unable to give a date for when this payment opens for external staff.

Potentially, thousands of people including nurses, healthcare assistants, cleaners, clerical workers, social care assistants, porters and security staff are still waiting.

Chairperson of the NJC unions and Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation director of professional services Tony Fitzpatrick said healthcare workers do not know when this will be paid.

“The Government announced what was supposed to be a goodwill gesture 36 weeks ago but have provided absolutely no mechanism to pay these workers who played a key role in the protection of the State in our hour of need,” he said in a statement.

Outgoing HSE chief executive Paul Reid was quizzed about this during a health committee session.

He said 123,000 HSE staff have now received their payment, and work was continuing to ensure everyone eligible would receive the bonus.

People Before Profit TD Gino Kenny said he felt the goodwill implicit in this gesture was being lost for those present.

HSE head of HR Anne-Marie Hoey told him: “I acknowledge and accept that those staff should get that payment as soon as possible.” 

However, she said the HSE needed more support and this has been put out to tender. External staff details are not stored in the HSE payroll system, as was the case for directly-employed staff, she said.

“Once the third-party provider that is going to assist us is in place, we will start to make those payments as soon as possible,” she said.

Fórsa head of health and welfare Ashley Connolly said in the joint-union statement: “What was meant to be a payment to show respect to healthcare workers has proved to be the very opposite.”

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