Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Sarah Mooney

Medical scientists have agreed to suspend strike action planned for next week to allow for talks at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

The Medical Laboratory Scientists Association (MLSA) had threatened three consecutive days of strike action next week if industrial action this Tuesday and Wednesday produced no resolution regarding long-standing recruitment and retention issues.

On Tuesday evening the union suspended strike action planned for Wednesday after accepting an invitation to attend the Labour Court for exploratory talks on the dispute with the HSE and Department of Health.

This evening, it said it had accepted a Labour Court recommendation to return to the WRC and would suspend further industrial action next week to allow for talks.

MLSA general secretary Terry Casey said the union “remained committed to resolving severe recruitment and retention issues in the sector and to achieving a sustainable work structure for medical scientists, patients and the Irish health service.”

The MLSA, HSE and Department of Health will now engage further at the WRC “for a period of at least three weeks from today.”

The Labour Court has requested notification after that timeframe if an agreement has been reached. It has requested that if outstanding issues remain they be referred back to the court, which has an accepted authority to make a recommendation that is binding for both parties.

Medical scientists carry out critical diagnostic testing of patient samples, with more than 2,100 MLSA members employed in public voluntary hospitals, HSE hospitals, private hospitals and the Irish Blood Transfusion Service.

Strike action on Tuesday and Wednesday this week was expected to lead to the cancellation of up to 30,000 medical procedures and appointments. Inpatient procedures, day-case elective procedures, outpatient appointments, maternity appointments and routine GP testing appointments were among those impacted.

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