People Before Profit will use their private member’s time in the Dáil next week to demand that the government grant medical scientists pay parity. Their union went on a one day strike last week and is set to escalate it to two days next week.
As thousands are already waiting too long on hospital waiting lists, it is vital that the dispute is resolved.
The claim of medical scientists for an 8% parity pay claim is completely justified. It is more relevant now as workers face a high rate of inflation.
People Before Profit is a voice for workers. We will use our Dáil seats to support actions by working people to improve their pay and conditions.
Below is a copy of the Dáil Resolution:
Motion on Strike action by the Medical Laboratory Scientists Association:
That Dáil Éireann notes that:
- Medical Scientists carry out the same work as other scientist colleagues in hospital laboratories but are paid on average 8% less, with fewer promotional opportunities and less support for training and education.
- Pay parity with Clinical Biochemists was awarded in 2001 following an Expert Group on Medical Laboratory Technician/Technologist Grades Report and was agreed by the HSE and Dept of Health, but this was lost due to an unintentional procedural effect of the 2002 benchmarking process.
- There is an ongoing and large national shortage of Medical Scientists across the public health service due to lesser pay and conditions, insufficient third level places, poor career structure and limited promotional opportunities, and up to 20% of medical scientists’ posts in hospitals are vacant
- The MLSA warned against the 2006 Government decision to outsource testing to the United States, due to the different testing and screening protocols in place and the disconnect between the outsourced screening programme and the clinical services in Ireland for women subsequently diagnosed with cervical cancer. Concern was also expressed about the loss to the State of the skills to provide the service.
- Medical Scientists are the hidden heroes of the health service. They are the people who process test samples for Covid, who do blood tests, who test urine and stool samples, and they have been under intense pressure during the Covid crisis.
- There is huge frustration and burn-out of medical scientists because of a severe recruitment and retention problem which have been ignored by the HSE and Department of Health for many years.
- Last November, MLSA members voted 98% in favour of taking industrial action in pursuit of their pay parity claim and recruitment for vacant posts.
- The MLSA planned strike action for late March/early April 2022 but deferred this action to accept an invitation to meet the Public Sector Agreement Group. However, satisfactory progress was not achieved and industrial action began last week and continues this week.
Further notes that
- Inflation has reached 7% and pay increases at least equal to the rate of inflation are necessary to protect all workers’ real incomes.
- The MLSA action follows many rounds of unsuccessful talks with the HSE, Department of Health, Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Public Service Agreement Group.
- The HSE has told the MLSA that funding for pay parity is a decision for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DPER) but DEPR has not engaged meaningfully with the MLSA over its pay claim.
- The MLSA has made every effort to avoid the disruption to patients and fellow healthcare workers, but has been left with no alternative but to take this action.
- Up to 14,000 outpatient appointments were canceled on the first day of strike action, with significant impacts on Emergency Departments, the number of patients on trolleys and on the GP service.
- The vast majority of MLSA members have been on picket lines at all public voluntary and HSE hospitals during the last week, and have received enormous public support for their action.
- Further days of strike action are planned next week on May 31st, June 1st and June 2nd
Calls on Government to
- Ensure that DPER and the HSE agree  to the long-standing pay parity award recommended over two decades ago, and immediately implement the average 8% pay increase sought by MLSA members.
- Begin a recruitment campaign to fill the estimated 20% of medical scientists posts that are currently vacant.
- Publish a plan for the rapid rebuilding of testing capabilities and capacity in the public health service and to end the outsourcing of testing to the private sector.