Hospital workers who are members of SIPTU are right to take action. Over the past few years they have taken on more responsibilities in infection control, cleaning, positioning of patients and a host of other activities.
After the Celtic Tiger crashed in 2008, the number of health service employees was cut and a ‘More work from Less staff’ policy was put into practice. The main purpose was to save the state money so it could rescue the bankers and big builders. Today these are back to making a fortune – while workers’ wages are being held down.
Hospital staff deserve a decent pay increase – and not the miserable €1.2 million which was on offer at the WRC talks.
Health Minister, Simon Harris, has some cheek attacking the union for taking strike action.
He is directly responsible for a staggering overspend of €1.7 billion on a National Children’s Hospital. The Fine Gael led government will fork out another €3 billion on rural broadband because they are committed to privatisation and creating ‘business opportunities’ for people like Denis O’Brien.
If these two projects were carried out by public investment, not for profit companies, they would cost a fraction of the price.
Now is the time for workers to get their share of the recovery. We have watched quietly while costs of housing, childcare and transport have increased. We have already waited too long.
We need to take decisive action. This strike should be driven from below by the strike committees that are being formed in many hospitals. Hospital staff should come together for regular mass meetings to discuss how to win. There must be no sell out or retreat.
More broadly, we need a decent workers party in this country. One that stands up for our class with the same determination that Fine Gael and Fianna Fail stand for the rich.