Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Ceisteanna (137, 138, 139, 140)

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

137. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health his plans for negotiation as a dispute resolution regarding the threatened paramedic dispute in relation to the withdrawal of labour on the 22 January 2019; and the steps he will take in relation to same. [3166/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

138. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health his plans to intervene in the paramedic dispute to find an acceptable conclusion to both sides on the matter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3167/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

139. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the fact that the HSE has not responded to requests by an organisation (details supplied) to meet to discuss contingency plans in order to agree appropriate emergency ambulance cover for the day of the threatened dispute; and the action has he taken to ensure both sides meet to discuss such a plan. [3168/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Peadar Tóibín

Ceist:

140. Deputy Peadar Tóibín asked the Minister for Health his views on the impact the ambulance dispute will have on the existing significant pressures on the service particularly in the middle of the influenza season and the bed shortage within the health sector. [3169/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 137 to 140, inclusive, together.

SIPTU is recognised by the HSE and has negotiating rights for frontline ambulance grades employed by the Executive.  As a result, the HSE deducts subscriptions at source for those ambulance staff that are members of that union.  However, the National Ambulance Service Representative Association (NASRA) is not recognised by the HSE and, therefore, does not have negotiating rights. 

Whilst individuals have a right to membership of any trade union, if they choose to join an association which is not recognised by their employer, such membership is not facilitated by their employer. This means that the HSE does not facilitate deduction of union subscriptions for this particular Association.  

In order to mitigate the risk of any potential disruption to service, I have been advised by the HSE that the National Ambulance Service had robust contingency arrangements in place to respond to the industrial action.  This involved ensuring the availability of the Irish Defence Forces to provide crewed ambulances on the day of the strike. 

It is regrettable that the Psychiatric Nurses Association has taken this action.  Whilst negotiation is usually a preferred course of action, in this instance it is not possible for the HSE to engage with the PNA as it is an organisation with no negotiating rights in respect of frontline ambulance personnel.