Ambulance staff in Cork say they were forced into strike action

Ambulance staff in Cork say they were forced into strike action
David Walker, secretary of the Cork & Kerry region and his colleagues, all members of the National Ambulance Service representative association branch of PNA, picketing at the Cork city ambulance base on Kinsale Road. Picture: David Keane.

Ambulance crew on strike across Cork and Ireland were forced to do so by the actions of the HSE, according to the Psychiatric Nurses Association.

Ambulance staff were on strike yesterday over the government’s refusal to recognise the National Ambulance Service Representative Association (NASRA) as an official union.

Ian Ring, Steve Whelton, Edward Walsh and Jas O'Callaghan, all members of the National Ambulance Service representative association branch of PNA, picketing at the Cork city ambulance base on Kinsale Road. Picture: David Keane.
Ian Ring, Steve Whelton, Edward Walsh and Jas O'Callaghan, all members of the National Ambulance Service representative association branch of PNA, picketing at the Cork city ambulance base on Kinsale Road. Picture: David Keane.

Around 600 members of the NAS nationally wish to be represented by the union but the government will only deal with the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) which represents a large cohort of ambulance staff.

PNA General Secretary Peter Hughes said dedicated, professional and highly trained ambulance personnel across the country are being again forced to strike as a result the actions of the HSE.

“The HSE has rejected invitations to WRC talks on this dispute, and has ignored the view of the Minister for Health, Simon Harris in the Dail that he wants to see this issue resolved through negotiation using the industrial relations procedures.” Sinead McGrath, National Chairperson of the PNA branch NASRA said it is regrettable that Minister for Health, Simon Harris has not intervened and instructed the HSE to resolve this dispute, which is impacting on front line emergency services.

Members of the National Ambulance Service representative association branch of PNA, picketing at the Cork city ambulance base on Kinsale Road. Picture: David Keane.
Members of the National Ambulance Service representative association branch of PNA, picketing at the Cork city ambulance base on Kinsale Road. Picture: David Keane.

“Minister Harris should be asking the HSE has it nothing better to be using its efforts and resources on than attempting to force highly committed and dedicated frontline ambulance staff into joining a trade union that they have repeatedly said they do not want to be members of,” she added.

The HSE has also come in for criticism after two ambulance workers were suspended, two more were cautioned and two others were spoken to after telling management they were unable to safely carry out an emergency request to drive to Dublin as they were approaching the end of a 12-hour shift.

While the formal disciplinary process usually takes around four to six weeks, Cork TD Mick Barry (Solidarity) said the two suspended workers have been suspended for more than eight months.

Speaking in the Dail this week, Deputy Barry accused the HSE and government of adopting a “hard line, union busting” policy.

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