Health Workers To Take Industrial Action

A major vote on the prospect of industrial action has seen almost 30,000 health service workers vote to stymie management with a work to rule and other disruptive action.

Workers believe the HSE's controversial recruitment freeze, is having a devastating effect on services.

The employees are members of the IMPACT trade union, which includes health professionals, therapists, social care workers and administrative and managerial staff. The union said it would refuse to co-operate with HSE advisors or the Executive's 'transformation programme’ from 21st May.

The result is an overwhelming 85% of union members and all members will now refuse to engage in non-emergency overtime and out-of-hours work, or to cover work and posts affected by the recruitment freeze.

The union says it is also planning other forms of action, including work stoppages, but insists the measures are designed to affect HSE management rather than patients.

In September 2007, the HSE announced a recruitment embargo in response to spending overruns in hospitals and refunds for drugs and medicines.

Although the spending overrun was not related to staffing costs, the embargo banned any new appointments of staff, temps, agency workers, locums, relief staff and overtime, as well as promotions, new acting up arrangements and career break returns.

A spokesman for IMPACT said: "The staffing freeze is having a devastating effect on services and staff. The effect of the cuts has so far varied, depending on where vacancies have arisen, but it's only a matter of time before all services and staff are affected.

“As well as curtailing existing services, the freeze has delayed promised improvements in areas like primary care, mental health services and care for older people. Our members find this intolerable, and experience tells us that more cuts in services and staffing are likely unless we take a stand."


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