Sunday, March 08, 2020

By Ciarán Sunderland

Trade union Siptu says HSE emergency plans for the covid-19 outbreak including outsourcing and a ban on industrial action are “unworkable”.

The union and the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) have proposed changes to the plans and are awaiting a response from management.

Siptu health organiser Paul Bell says there are no plans to strike — and that there is a huge amount of “good will” from workers who want to beat the virus.

“We will not tolerate a proposal that means that our members lose their right to pursue issues that they are pursuing with their management,” Bell said.

“And that includes the right to have strike action. But I want to make it very clear, SIPTU are not intending taking strike action throughout the period that we regard as an emergency.

It’s members are doing everything they can to make sure that this virus is beaten and that the health service can return to normal.

Earlier today the union welcomed the decision to lift the embargo on recruitment for health workers in the HSE.

In a separate statement Bell said: “The fact that there will be no obstruction to the recruitment of essential health workers can only assist in the fight against COVID-19.

Yesterday the INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said the HSE has confirmed the move, as all sides work to cope with the coronovirus outbreak.

She said the lifting of the ban was vital, to protect frontline health workers and prevent the virus spreading in the community.

Ms Ní Sheaghdha said: “We’ve been looking for the embargo to be lifted since last May. In the context of the current crisis, we have again emphasised to the health service that they need to lift all barriers because we need everybody that can be at work, at work.”

“This morning they have confirmed in writing to us that all barriers are now removed to ensure recruitment of nurses and midwives.”

She said the coronavirus outbreak has put hospitals under major pressure and frontline health workers need full protection amid the rising number of cases.

“That includes any opportunity that we can get to prevent spread in the community,” she added.

There are now 21 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country.

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