I propose to take Questions Nos. 383 and 421 together.
As we are aware, a branch of the Psychiatric Nurses Association called the National Ambulance Service Representative Association (NASRA) has been engaged in Industrial action.
The PNA state that their industrial action is in connection with the automated deduction of union subscriptions and a refusal by the HSE to engage in negotiations with the PNA or to recognise the PNA as union representatives when representing its ambulance personnel members.
To be clear, NASRA, which is affiliated with the PNA, is a group which is not recognised by the HSE and therefore does not have negotiating rights. The PNA do not have negotiating rights for ambulance personnel.
The HSE deducts subscriptions at source for those ambulance staff that are members of SIPTU, FORSA and UNITE. This is not a legal right but a concession granted to recognised unions.
While it is regrettable that the PNA has taken this action, it is not possible to negotiate with a union which is not recognised as having negotiating rights for ambulance grades. In saying that, I am keen to see an end to this dispute. Officials from my Department have met with representatives of the HSE and the management of NAS to explore possible options. This is a complex, challenging situation however, I remain confident that a solution can and will be found.