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PNA calls on new HSE Director General to end divisive dispute

Thursday, 23 rd  May -  The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) said today (Thursday) that the first of a series of 24 hour strikes by its ambulance personnel members (including paramedics, advanced paramedics and emergency medical technicians)  in pursuit of their demand for the right to be represented by the PNA as the union of their choice will take place from 7 a.m. Friday 31 st May to 7 a.m. Saturday 1 st June. The strike by over 500 ambulance personnel members of the PNA is a further escalation of the industrial dispute and more 24-hour strikes will follow on dates to be announced in the coming weeks. 

Peter Hughes, PNA General Secretary, said once again the HSE was forcing an escalation in a dispute that is entirely of the HSE's making.  To date, PNA ambulance branch members have engaged in a work to rule and have undertaken six strike days since the dispute began.

Peter Hughes said: “It has become very clear that not alone has the HSE refused to engage in the normal industrial relations protocol of agreeing contingency plans for our previous strike days, but it has also exploited the professionalism and dedication of ambulance personnel to ensure that ambulance services are provided even in a strike situation.  HSE management have sat back and placed the responsibility of maintaining ambulance cover on our members. As we move to 24 hour strikes it is incumbent on the HSE to comply with custom and practice and negotiate contingency arrangements for the planned 24-hour strike days.”

He said: “The demand by over 500 of our members to be members of, and represented by, the PNA now has strong cross-party political support in the Dáil.  However, despite his comments in the Dáil that he wants this dispute referred to the WRC, the Minister for Health, Simon Harris has been incapable of bringing the HSE to its senses and ending this divisive dispute.”

Mr. Hughes added: “It should now be a priority for the new HSE Director General, Paul Reid, to bring this dispute to an end, and stop trying to force ambulance personnel into unions that they have made it clear they are not prepared to be members of. Mr Reid has an opportunity to end this dispute which is impacting on performance and morale within the ambulance services - a vital area of frontline health services.”

Media Contact:  Derek Cunningham 086-2430535