As talks aimed at averting a strike in hospital emergency departments next Thursday open at the Workplace Relations Commission this morning, everyone involved will understand that brinkmanship is a part of any process designed to resolve workplace differences.
In this instance, however, brinkmanship seems a wasted tactic, as both parties to the dispute have, or at least they should have, a common goal — vastly improved emergency services in our over-crowded hospitals. Health Minister Leo Varadkar has argued — convincingly — that a five-year programme of investment in hospitals, primary care and social care is needed to improve services. The logic of his argument is watertight but the real issue is trust. Service users, service providers and even politicans have seen so many efforts to crack this particular nut fail that credibility is at a premium.
Unfortunately, any agreement must be seen through the filter of an oncoming election and the possibility of a change in policies. Nevertheless, it must be hoped that today’s talks conclude successfully and that a strike is made unnecessary.
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