THE HSE IS to launch a ‘targeted voluntary redundancy scheme’ from 1 January next year as part of the implementation of the Haddington Road Agreement.
In a memo sent to HSE managers today, Director of Human Resources Barry O’Brien pointed out that the agreement provides managers with “significant enablers to extract cost, and reduce the overall cost base in health service delivery, while radically reviewing and changing work practices, rosters, and work patterns in the context of the reform and re-organisation of the health services”.
He said the redundancy scheme “allow services re-structure and reconfigure while at the same time deliver essential cost savings and further reduce headcount.” However he did not give any indication of how many redundancies the HSE would be seeking.
SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell said today he despaired at the content of the memorandum and accused the HSE of attempting to “re-interpret the terms” of the agreement.
The memo stated that from 1 January, all staff should be working additional hours required under the agreement from. For a period, it was possible for a small number of staff to retain their existing working hours from from the start of next year, this will now longer be allowed.
Commenting on this, SIPTU’s Bell said:
If this memorandum is an accurate reflection of its position, senior management at the HSE has determined that section 2.5 of the agreement be nullified and that it has the right to enforce additional hours of work on employees who have already opted to take a pay cut in order to maintain their existing hours of work. Such an action will lead to an inevitable confrontation with health service unions.
O’Brien also mentioned the controversial Graduate Nurse Programme, commenting that it is providing “additional resources to front-line services to reduce agency and overtime costs”.
Yesterday, in emerged that the CEOs of four hospitals wrote to the director general of the HSE saying that health cuts are beginning to seriously threaten patient safety.
Bell said the threatened targeted redundancies of staff “will only serve to compound the problem they have identified in their letter”.