Tuesday, 11 June 2019

Questions (430)

Thomas Pringle


430. Deputy Thomas Pringle asked the Minister for Health the contingency plans and resources that were in place for the HSE and the national ambulance service to deal with a strike by a union (details supplied) on Friday, 31 May 2019; if he met with his officials regarding the dispute; if so, the response; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23283/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

A branch of the Psychiatric Nurses Association called the National Ambulance Service Representative Association (NASRA) has been engaged in industrial action, including strike action on 31 May. The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) state that their industrial action is 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.

The focus of the National Ambulance Service in all circumstances is to ensure that service and care delivery is not compromised in any manner. During the day of industrial action on 31 May the National Ambulance Service had a robust and detailed contingency plan in place to minimise any disruption and to ensure that patient safety would not be compromised. This included managers who are qualified paramedics being available to carry out front line duties as well as the Department of Defence making a number of appropriately crewed ambulances available.

NASRA is a group which is not recognised by the HSE and does not have negotiating rights. The PNA does not have negotiating rights for ambulance personnel. Ambulance front line personnel are fully represented by SIPTU, at all levels of employment with HSE, the Department and other fora. 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. I have had engagement with my officials concerning this dispute. Government policy supports the policy of consolidation of trade unions, such as has happened recently in the formation of FORSA. Giving recognition to NASRA would run counter to this objective.