Up to 17,000 hospital staff set to ballot for strike action

UP to 17,000 staff at 36 hospitals including health care assistants, chefs, laboratory aides and theatre staff are set to ballot for strike action.

Siptu has announced that workers in support grades in areas including patient transport, catering, housekeeping, porter services, and security will vote from Monday.

The union is balloting all members in these grades in a dispute over the implementation of a job evaluation scheme that has been stalled.

It wants the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to allow members to move onto a higher pay grade.

A union spokesperson said the first phase of an independent review found that 7,000 of its members were entitled to move to higher grades.

Separately, the union is demanding that 1,000 chefs who are classified as general operatives shift to a higher craft workers’ pay scale.

Siptu Health Division Organiser Paul Bell said his members’ confidence in the public service pay deal has been severely undermined.

“The move to extend the ballot for strike action from selected hospitals to include all members in support grades follows a meeting of the Siptu Health Support Sector Committee on Thursday,” said Mr Bell.

He said tensions have been heightened by a recent HSE decision to introduce an overtime ban and three month recruitment embargo.

“Our members have played by the rules and waited since 2015 for the Government to honour, in full, a job evaluation process that was negotiated as part of the Lansdowne Road Agreement,” he said.

The result of the ballot will be announced on May 16.

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