Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Questions (639, 640, 641)

Noel Grealish

Question:

639. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health the reason his Department is considering issuing court injunctions against a recognised union (details supplied) in view of the fact that it negotiates with the same union for a significant portion of staffing of the HSE; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18518/19]

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Noel Grealish

Question:

640. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health if he has set a date for meeting with a cross-party group to discuss the ongoing situation regarding recognition of a union (details supplied) in view of the fact that there is cross-party support to have this matter resolved and allow ambulance personnel to return to work; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18519/19]

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Noel Grealish

Question:

641. Deputy Noel Grealish asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the HSE has ignored all requests to meet in the Workplace Relations Commission despite his statement that this is his preferred method of addressing the issue regarding recognition of a union (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18520/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 639 to 641, inclusive, together.

To begin, I can confirm that my Department has not issued any court injunctions to the PNA. As far as I am aware, a meeting request from a cross party group to discuss the matter has not yet been received.

As you are aware, a branch of the Psychiatric Nurses Association called the National Ambulance Service Representative Association (NASRA) has been engaged in industrial action in connection with two substantive issues. The first is the automated deduction of union subscriptions. The second is the refusal by the HSE to engage in negotiations with the PNA or to recognise the PNA as representing ambulance personnel. 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 does not have negotiating rights for ambulance personnel.

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 does not have negotiating rights for ambulance personnel.

It should be noted that the HSE deducts subscriptions at source for those ambulance staff that are members of a number of unions. These are SIPTU, FORSA and UNITE. The deduction of subscriptions is not a legal right but rather a concession granted to recognised unions.

While it is regrettable that the PNA has taken this industrial action, it is not possible to negotiate with a union which is not recognised as having negotiating rights for ambulance grades. Industrial relations policy has had a long standing objective of avoiding fragmentation in worker representation in public sector employments, and the trade union movement generally, so as to facilitate the orderly conduct of bargaining and other aspects of industrial relations.