Ambulance staff threaten rolling 24-hour strike action

Ambulance staff threaten rolling 24-hour strike action
Members of the National Ambulance Service on strike on the Kinsale Road in April. Picture: Jim Coughlan.

Ambulance staff across Cork and Ireland could engage in rolling 24-hour strike action unless the HSE acknowledge and negotiate with their choice of union.

Ambulance crews have gone on strike on almost 10 separate occasions so far this year, adding to the issues facing the health service.

The strike action centres on the refusal of the HSE to recognise the National Ambulance Service Representative Association (NASRA), a branch of the PNA, as the trade union of choice for more than 500 ambulance staff personnel.

NASRA secretary Tony Gregg said staff will engage in one more 24-hour strike in the coming weeks.

He warned that unless the HSE engage with the union, rolling 24-hour strikes would be next.

“It’s unacceptable that the government, Taoiseach and Health Minister have allowed it to come to this,” said Mr Gregg.

“Despite the fact that the Minister has stated on three or four occasions that he preferred dialogue over dispute and that he instructed his department to engage with the HSE on the issue, nothing has happened.

“It appears the HSE is now ignoring directions from the Department and the wishes of the government,” he added.

“We have already escalated the action to 24-hour strikes and we will continue to protest.

“The next step is to have rolling 24-hour escalation which could bring us into two day, three day, even four-day strikes.

“Workers, not just ambulance staff but all workers, have the fundamental right to be represented by a union of their choice and we will fight to the hilt for this right.” Mr Gregg revealed that ambulance staff would also be conducting protests outside the Dail early next month before TDs take their annual leave.

He added that if the dispute was not resolved by the time they are due back at Leinster House, ambulance staff would be protesting again.

David Walker, an advanced paramedic in Cork, has told The Echo that NASRA members are determined to push on with the action and gain acknowledgement from the HSE.

He added that morale in the ranks is at an all-time low and that bullying from the HSE was rife.

The ambulance service will have contingency plans in place to deal with emergencies during any strike action but transfers will not take place.

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