Health Care Staff Gain From Strike Action – But Is It Enough?

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Members of SIPTU across a number of grades in the health sector, including hospital porters, healthcare assistants, cleaners and home helps, are balloting on a Labour Court Recommendation in relation to their pay. The staff involved and are some of the lowest paid in the health services.

This recommendation arose after a campaign, which included strike action, to have the outcome of a job evaluation exercise implemented. While the HSE and the government wanted to pay the increases due in 2021 they have now been forced to agree to start paying in September 2019. This clearly show that strike action pays off. The government has been forced to shift its position.

The Recommendation does three things:For workers who had their job evaluation completed in October 2018, about 6,400, increases will be paid in September 2019. These range from 6 to 13%. Forcing the government to agree to pay before 2021 is a clear gain for these workers;

  1. Those who have not had their job evaluation completed, over 3,000, will have them completed and will be paid in either September 2020 or January 2021;
  2. There is no specific recommendation for payments in relation to Chefs despite there being an ongoing issue with their pay. It has not been reviewed since 2000 and is considered to be out of line with industry norms. It is now proposed that no later than 3 months from the acceptance of the Labour Court Recommendation that there would be a review of their pay.

While many low paid workers in the health sector will welcome the fact that they will get their increase in September there are a number of problems with the recommendation.

  1. The union sought that the job evaluations increases be paid in October 2018. Increases were awarded as the jobs people are doing are deemed to have expanded: people are doing more work, and have been for some time. Yet there is no provision for back money to 2018 in the recommendation.
  2. Those workers who to have their grades evaluated will not get their increases for another year or more.
  3. The provisions in relation to Chefs do not guarantee any increases despite management accepting there is merit in the claim for a new pay structure.

For these reason People Before Profit members in health care are calling on the grades affected to Vote NO to the Labour Court recommendation and send the negotiators back to address the issues highlighted above