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Howlin: 'We would expect people invited by Labour Court to turn up'

The Minister was speaking after it emerged the Irish Hospital Consultants Association will not be attending reform talks in the Labour Court on Thursday.

Image: Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland

MINISTER BRENDAN HOWLIN has responded to the Irish Hospital Consultants Association’s announcement that they will not take part in a Labour Court hearing on work practice reforms this Thursday.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland this morning, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform said that he listened “with some concern” to the views of the consultant representative, Martin Varley. Varley had said that the IHCA doesn’t “have a need to turn up on Thursday” and that its first objective is to continue to treat patients and the issues being discussed at the hearings are not covered by the Croke Park agreement.

RTÉ reports that the HSE warned that consultants in Irish hospitals are at risk of pay cuts if they don’t attend the Labour Court hearing, adding that if they don’t attend, it could be interpreted the IHCA is “walking away” from the Croke Park Agreement.

Collective agreement

Minister Howlin said on Morning Ireland: “I am of the view that you can’t be part of a collective agreement for the things that protect you, and excluded from the collective agreement of the parts that challenge you.”

Minister Howlin said that the mention of pay cuts “is not a matter of a threat at all”. “You have the protection of Croke Park, which means we won’t cut your pay and there wont be any compulsory redundancies as long as you are signing up to Croke Park and implementing Croke Park,” he said.

The Minister added that “no more than the Government on its side can’t unpick it without agreement, unions can’t unpick it and we expect every union to fully measure up to the commitment of reform that is essential in our economic strategy”.

He said that the government would expect people who are invited by the Labour Court to turn up to it, “and we expect all unions who are signed up and afforded the protection of Croke Park to fully comply with their side of the agreement”.

Read: James Reilly: New consultants will have to face a hefty pay cut>

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