Unions call for immediate talks with HSE on recognition of healthcare workers

Unions call for immediate talks with HSE on recognition of healthcare workers

Unions are seeking some form of tangible recognition for healthcare workers’ contribution to the fight against COVID.

UNIONS representing healthcare workers have called for “immediate” talks with the HSE on the need for the recognition of the efforts of health care workers throughout the pandemic.

SIPTU, Fórsa, and the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) had raised the issue at the Labour Court, which on Monday called on all parties to begin “effective engagement” to resolve the matter.

Tony Fitzpatrick, Chair of the Staff Panel of trade unions in the health sector welcomed the Labour Court recommendation.

"The Court recognised the 'extraordinary efforts of health workers throughout the pandemic'. They have called on all parties to 'make every effort possible' to begin 'effective engagement' to 'achieve clarity…at the earliest possible opportunity'.

"Trade unions are available to meet immediately to do exactly that. This is a simple matter of justice for our members."

Mr Fitzpatrick stated that their members have made “incredible sacrifices” and taken “huge risks” during the pandemic.

“It is time for the HSE and government to recognise their efforts meaningfully, as has been done in other countries across Europe."

Earlier this week, Mr Fitzpatrick said it is “only right” that the government acknowledge the “incredible work” of healthcare workers.

It came following reports that the Government may be looking at COVID recognition payments for frontline workers.

Cork North Central TD Mick Barry said that any form of such payments must be paid to frontline private sector workers as well as frontline public sector workers.

Mr Barry said that he welcomes the fact that recognition payments “seem to be on the agenda now”.

“What is paid to public sector frontline staff must however be paid out by employers to frontline private sector staff also.

“Frontline private sector staff such as retail workers and cleaners have played key roles in battling the pandemic and helping society get to the point we are now at. They must be rewarded now too."

He added that recognition for these efforts should include increasing the national minimum wage.

A spokesperson for the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform told The Echo that the Government acknowledges that workers across the economy, including public servants, have made “an extraordinary contribution” during the pandemic.

“The Government will consider possible approaches to deal with this complex matter and must consider the whole of the economy in its deliberations.

“Now that we are reaching the next and final phase of this pandemic, it is intended that the Government will consider how best to recognise efforts made by people during COVID-19.”

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