Hearing on health workers' claim for recognition during pandemic
A Labour Court hearing on the row over recognition for health workers’ efforts and commitment during the Covid-19 pandemic takes place later today (Monday,, September 13).
Trade unions representing health workers referred the case to the Labour Court following a July meeting in the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), when the HSE said it had no mandate from the Government to make proposals to recognise health workers’ contribution.
The unions, led by Fórsa, the INMO and SIPTU, subsequently asked An Taoiseach, Micheál Martin to intervene amid growing frustration among health staff.
Tony Fitzpatrick, INMO Director of Industrial Relations said: “Health workers welcomed comments by An Taoiseach and other senior Government figures, who have gone on record to support the proposal that their efforts during the pandemic should be recognised. So they were incredulous that the HSE claimed it had no mandate to engage on the issue. That’s why we’ve had to take our case to the Labour Court.”
Fórsa’s Head of Health & Welfare, Éamonn Donnelly, commented: “This has become deeply damaging to the morale of health care workers who, without exception, have demonstrated extraordinary commitment in their response to public need since the pandemic struck in February 2021. It’s demoralising that we’ve ended up in the Labour Court when there is broad public and political consensus on the issue.”
SIPTU Health Divisional Organiser, Kevin Figgis, added: “The Republic is out of step with Northern Ireland, the UK, and most EU countries, where health workers have already seen recognition of their extraordinary efforts and contribution. Over 30,000 health care workers have been infected with Covid-19 since the pandemic struck in Ireland.”
The case before the Labour Court today is in the name of the National Staff Panel of health unions, which represents members of the INMO, SIPTU, Fórsa, IMO, MLSA, UNITE, CONNECT, and the craft group of unions.