Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Questions (1529, 1547, 1952)

Bobby Aylward


1529. Deputy Bobby Aylward asked the Minister for Health the steps he will take to ensure the HSE engages in talks with an association (details supplied) with a view to resolving the dispute which is affecting front-line ambulance personnel and members of the National Ambulance Service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33277/19]

View answer

Thomas P. Broughan


1547. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Health if he will take all necessary steps to urgently resolve the dispute between the HSE and a union (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [33385/19]

View answer

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire


1952. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Health if he will bring the industrial dispute involving ambulance staff to a close by encouraging the HSE to recognise an organisation (details supplied). [34397/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 1529, 1547 and 1952 together.

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. The Psychiatric Nurses Association 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.

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, to facilitate the orderly conduct of bargaining and other aspects of industrial relations.

Officials in my Department have engaged with HSE management to explore ways forward to see if a resolution to the dispute can be progressed. These discussions have taken place, but an appropriate solution has yet to emerge. On that basis, the fact remains that the PNA does not have negotiating rights for ambulance grades and hence the HSE cannot negotiate with them in respect of this group.