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HSE threaten High Court injunction over ambulance crews' planned industrial action

By Sarah Slater

A High Court injunction threatened by the HSE against ambulance crews who are threatening industrial action has forced them to reconsider their plans.

The protest is over their rights to be part of a union.

Scores of members of the union National Ambulance Service Representative (NASRA) claim the HSE refuses to deduct union subscriptions from their payroll.

NASRA, which is a branch of the Psychiatric Nurses Association, withdrew their plans today. The strike was due to get underway tomorrow.

The industrial action was to include; not carrying out core duties, refusing to use vital sat navs and personal phones, and full strike action.

In a statement, NASRA said: “This decision has been taken for tactical reasons, and comes in the face of threats from the HSE to seek a High Court injunction against PNA to stop the planned industrial action from going ahead.

“The PNA and NASRA are resolute and determined to pursue the rights and entitlements of ambulance service personnel to organise and to be represented by the trade union of their choice without obstruction from the HSE.

[quote]The (union) is to hold a general meeting of members on Wednesday to consider all available options to pursue its demands.[/quote]

Ambulance crews have already held a protest outside the National Ambulance Services Central Payroll headquarters in Tullamore, Co Offaly at what they claim is the, “continued refusal of the Health Service Executive to facilitate payroll deductions of union subscriptions for members.”

The union, which is set-up eight years ago, has up to members 600 members almost half of 1,400 paramedics nationwide. The remainder of paramedics are either members of Siptu and Unite trade unions.

Union chiefs have previously said, that the protest was held over the deep frustration and anger among the growing number of NASRA members nationally, that their fundamental rights to organise and join were being obstructed by the HSE.

In a ballot conducted nationally over the past two weeks, the members voted by nearly 98% in favour of industrial action.

Peter Hughes, the union’s General Secretary said the decisive outcome of the ballot confirmed the level of anger and frustration by NASRA members at having a basic work right to join the union of their choice denied to them.

[quote]The HSE have chosen to refuse to engage with us on the fundamental issue despite many requests to do so.[/quote]

“Ambulance personnel do not accept the arbitrary move taken earlier this year by the HSE to refuse to deduct union subscriptions at source for the growing numbers of ambulance service personnel (including paramedics, advanced paramedics and emergency medical technicians) who wish to join NASRA, and exercise their fundamental right to organise and join the union of their choice.”

The HSE said they are aware of the forthcoming industrial action and will endeavour to continue lines of communication with the union. The HSE confirmed they are pursuing legal options.