Medical scientists suspend further strike action

The Labour Court intervened in the dispute today inviting both parties to engage in a process which will commence tomorrow.
Medical scientists suspend further strike action

James Cox

Medical scientists have suspended their industrial action for tomorrow after accepting an invitation to attend the Labour Court for exploratory talks on the dispute.

The Labour Court intervened in the dispute today inviting both parties to engage in a process which will commence tomorrow.

Both the Medical Laboratory Scientists Association (MLSA) and HSE/Department of Health have accepted the invitation.

As a result MLSA has this evening issued notice to all of its 2,100 members to suspend further industrial action planned for tomorrow, and to resume work as normal tomorrow morning across all hospital laboratories.

MLSA general secretary Terry Casey said the union will enter the Labour Court process in good faith and with commitment to resolving the severe recruitment and retention issues in the laboratory sector.

“The MLSA’s Executive Committee met this afternoon and has agreed to accept the Labour Court’s invitation. We will remain focused on what is required to achieve a sustainable work structure for Medical Scientists, patients and the Irish health service.”

The strike action has already seen up to 30,000 medical procedures and appointments cancelled.

Inpatient procedures, day-case elective procedures, outpatient appointments, maternity appointments and routine GP testing appointments were among those impacted.

Recruitment and retention crisis

Mr Casey said the action was taken in frustration over a chronic recruitment and retention crisis in the sector arising out of poor pay.

“We did engage with the HSE but there has been no progress in terms of the discussions to response the dispute unfortunately,” he told Saturday with Philip Boucher Hayes on RTÉ Radio 1.

“We have had some informal discussions with the WRC and the HSE who themselves are concerned with the escalation of the dispute into this week where there will be a stoppage for two days on Tuesday and Wednesday once again.”

Speaking earlier, Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the dispute should be solved through the Workplace Relations Commission WRC or within the Labour Court.

“In our view, and in my view, optimal use must be made of the industrial relations machinery of the state,” Mr Martin told the Dáil on Tuesday.

“Be it the WRC or the Labour Court in respect of getting this issue resolved.

“There would have been significant informal contact over the weekend and the issue is about getting all sides into the process, into either the WRC or the Labour Court, to get this resolved, within broad industrial relations frameworks, because at the end of the day, Government wants a resolution of this.”

The HSE said hospitals will "endeavour to resume appointments and procedures as quickly as possible tomorrow".

A statement read: "Inevitably, there will still be some cancellation of inpatient and day surgery and outpatient appointments across hospitals. Hospitals will contact patients directly to advise them on any updates or changes to arrangements for tomorrow.

"Routine GP testing and testing services for patients already in hospital will resume tomorrow.

"The HSE would like to acknowledge the ongoing cooperation of our staff and patients at this time."

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