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 NASRA has taken industrial action. Whilst negotiation is usually a preferred course of action, in this instance it is not possible for the HSE to engage with NASRA as it is an organisation with no negotiating rights in respect of frontline ambulance personnel.