SIPTU health workers at Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital taking part in the 24 hour national strike today. Colleagues can be seen at the right of the picture taking their lunch break. Photo: Andy Sperarman.
Health support staff at Our Lady of Lourdes hospital downed tools from 8.00am today to mount a picket outside the hospital in furtherance of their dispute with the HSE over pay and conditions.
They joined 10,000 of their colleagues at 38 other hospitals nationwide in a 24-hour work stoppage called by their trade union SIPTU.
SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser, Paul Bell said: “SIPTU would prefer a negotiated settlement that does not impact on patient services.
“Unfortunately, we have run out of time and too many issues remain unresolved. SIPTU members have acted in good faith at all times during this dispute including by deferring two days of strike action.
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“We believe that the Government has abused the conciliation process and never meaningfully engaged with SIPTU representatives.
“Some €16.2 million is owed to our members yet the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has only offered €1.2 million to resolve this dispute.
“Furthermore, the Department has attempted to frustrate this process by seeking to unilaterally change a crucial element of the job evaluation scheme which centres on the assimilation of pay to new grades as awarded under this independent process.
“Our members continue to pursue their legitimate claim for recognition, respect and pay justice.”
Speaking to Drogheda Life at the picket line this afternoon Margaret O’Malley who is on the catering staff at OLOL laid the blame firmly at the Government’s door for letting the dispute degenerate to the stage when staff were on the picket lines.
“We work hard for our money and this is what they do to us” she said. She also told Drogheda Life that all of her patients had received their breakfast this morning and their dinner. “We’ll make sure they get their tea this evening as well” she said.
“The patients are the important people in this and we won’t see them going without” she said. “We love our work and the patients all love to see us coming - for the chat as much as the cups of tea! At the same time, we need to get the money that was promised to us."
“Feedback from our services this morning would suggest that the situation in all sites is challenging because of the range of essential services affected. However, all sites are continuing to engage locally with SIPTU on contingency plans to ensure safe service provision and patient dignity, care and comfort. In this regard we wish to acknowledge the goodwill and cooperation of our staff.
“As well as facing challenges in maintaining essential daily care for our inpatients such as nutrition, hydration, transfer of patients, cleaning and infection control, emerging data would also suggest that there has been a significant number of appointment and procedure cancellations including surgical procedures, scope procedures, and outpatient appointments.”
They emphasised however that while Emergency Departments are busy today and patients may experience delays, patients requiring urgent and emergency care should attend.