SouthDoc lays off 40 staff due to 'uncertain times' around Covid-19

SouthDoc lays off 40 staff due to 'uncertain times' around Covid-19
SouthDoc transport at their base in at Kinsale road rounabout Picture: Eddie O'Hare

SOUTHDOC have laid off around 40 staff temporarily - most of the workers affected are understood to be administration staff.

In a letter Southdoc sent to staff, they say these layoffs are “necessary in these current difficult and uncertain times.” 

The letter goes on to say that following a review, they “do not anticipate that there is any alternative productive work currently available for certain staff members.” It comes following the closure of a number of Southdoc centres across the region.

Siptu’s health division has written to Southdoc to say that they are disappointed this “serious development” had not been progressed through the union’s representatives.

“It is our current understanding that HSE funding is not being reduced or curtailed during this period and it should be possible to retain staff earnings,” the latter states.

They also say that they expect the status quo to remain until an agreed alternative proposal is presented to the union. “The proposal should also address the restoration of any negative impact on pay or annual leave already implemented.” Solidarity TD Mick Barry said: “When the nation was out on their doorsteps last night applauding the health workers SouthDoc workers were being laid off without pay. SouthDoc bypassed the union, they bypassed national agreements and the workers' suspicion that scores are being settled here after the recent strike seem credible.

“We need all hands on deck in our health service and if SouthDoc is to be consolidated then redeployment would seem a better option than layoffs for these workers,” he added.

Meanwhile, Sinn Féin TD Thomas Gould is calling for assurances from Southdoc the the centres that have closed due to the pandemic will be reopened once it’s over, and that the staff would be taken back on.

“While the pandemic is ongoing those staff should be redeployed to the HSE.” 

The Cork North Central TD said that with the staff’s experience, he cannot see why they wouldn’t be redeployed. “They should offer that staff to the HSE, and the majority or all of them would gladly go and work for the HSE during the crisis.

“Why would we be laying off any medical staff at this time?”

Cork East TD Seán Sherlock has said that a public clarification by the Board of South Doc must be provided on the temporary staff lay-offs.

“There was certainly an understanding that staff would be redeployed to other centres during this public health emergency. The closure of a number of cells was also understood by staff to mean that it was on the basis of ensuring the safety and health of staff. It was not understood that qualified health administrative staff would be laid off," he said.

“It has been conveyed to me by those staff with the sword of Damocles hanging over their heads, that this is a precursor to permanent layoffs. This has to be clarified by SouthDoc.

“People are now scratching their heads questioning why any staff member would be laid off in the middle of a Health Crisis. It seems counter-intuitive and requires explaining. South Doc may operate as a separate entity but the taxpayer has a big stake in its operation. Clarifications are now required if the purpose of the public health emergency is to keep people out of hospitals," Deputy Sherlock added.

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