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500 ambulance staff to hold another 24-hour strike in a row over union recognition

Workers have already staged seven days of work stoppages in January, February and March and May.

Image: Niall Carson via PA Images

THE PSYCHIATRIC NURSES Association (PNA) has announced that over 500 ambulance personnel are to hold a 24-hour strike later this month. 

The branch members, which include paramedics, advanced paramedics and emergency medical technicians, will hold the strike from 7am on Friday 19 July until 7am on Saturday 20 July. 

The dispute centres on the demand that the HSE recognises their union. 

The dispute is separate from the industrial action taken earlier this year over pay and staffing levels being undertaken by thousands of psychiatric nurses who are also PNA members.

Workers have already staged seven days of work stoppages in January, February and March and May. 

Dáil protest

The PNA also announced today that it will be holding a protest outside the Dáil tomorrow from 12.30pm until 2.30pm. 

PNA general secretary Peter Hughes said ambulance personnel members are determined that Oireachtas members will have a clear message before the Dáil summer recess. 

“The message is unchanged – ambulance personnel, who established their own branch within the PNA ten years ago, demand the right to be members of PNA as the union of their choice and will not be forced by the HSE to join another union that they do not want to be members of,” Hughes said. 

While our campaign has been encouraged by the growing level of political support in Leinster House, we are calling on all Oireachtas members to suppose ambulance personnel in demanding a basic right for workers to join the union of their choice. 

Speaking of taking the decision for further strike action, Hughes added that “this is a situation that these professional, highly dedicated workers have said they do not want to be in”.

“However, they are left with no option in the face of an inexplicable intransigence by the HSE and a refusal to acknowledge the clearly expressed wishes of ambulance personnel to be members of, and represented by PNA – a trade union of over 49 years’ experience in representing workers within the health and social care services’,” he said.

Currently, the National Ambulance Service (NAS) recognises Siptu, Unite and Forsa trade unions for staff in the service. 

“Recognition of other associations or unions would undermine the positive engagement that exists and would impair good industrial relations in the National Ambulance Service,” the HSE said in a statement ahead of the seventh day of strike action in May. 

“It is a well-established principle of public policy that fragmentation of union representation in the public sector is not in the interests either of the public or of workers,” it said.

“For that reason where grades of employee already have strong representation rights – as is the case in the National Ambulance Service – it is not appropriate for employers to recognise break-away unions. Recognising break-away unions has a destabilising effect on good industrial relations.”

The HSE has been contacted for a statement in light of today’s announcement.

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