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Over 500 ambulance staff to begin 24-hour strike tomorrow 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

OVER 500 AMBULANCE personnel members of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) are to strike for 24 hours from 2pm tomorrow afternoon. 

The strike is being held in pursuit of members’ demand for the right to be represented by the PNA as the union of their choice. 

This is the second 24-hour PNA ambulance branch strike throughout the country, involving paramedics, advanced paramedics and emergency medical technicians.

The strike will remain in place until 2pm on Saturday.

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. 

PNA general secretary Peter Hughes claimed that the HSE has refused to engage in normal industrial protocol of agreeing contingency planning where notice is given of  industrial action involving the emergency services.

“As PNA ambulance personnel members demonstrated at their recent protest outside Dail Eireann, they are not prepared to surrender their right to be members of, and represented by the union of their choice,” Hughes said.

Having campaigned for 18 months for this fundamental right, the resolve and determination of these PNA members is as strong as ever and they are fully supported by the wider PNA membership and a growing number of trade unionists from the wider trade union movement.

“Ambulance personnel are being forced onto the picket lines again tomorrow to secure a basic workplace right that should be open to all workers who want to join, and be represented by, the union of their choice,” Hughes said.

HSE stance

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 by TheJournal.ie for an updated statement.

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