By Brendan Flynn
The exercise on Roles and Responsibilities began in January 2019 with the intention of publishing a report by June 2019.
We understand that a cross section of staff EMTs, paramedics and advanced paramedics presented their individual case to the sitting review committee.
Unfortunately, following the various presentations, the Review Group in their report stated that they were left confused regarding the current job descriptions put forward by staff and management alike.
Clearly there was very little attention or preparation put into the presentation and as a result the unions are struggling to conclude the process.
The management were so concerned at the quality of information they felt was being disseminated throughout the service that they wrote to the negotiators to invite them in on April 17th to explain to them what they felt had been agreed
There has to our knowledge been no staff meetings to debate, inform, or seek the opinion of ambulance staff directly affected, nor has there been an explanation as to why the process has taken so long and it would seem delivered so little.
Since NASRA’s formation, we have been representing staff nationally, but without the right to collective bargaining even though we are members of the PNA, a recognised trade union with 53 years’ experience in representing HSE workers.
Our ongoing dispute on the issue of recognition has been disrupted by Covid, but it continues with the PNA General Secretary, Peter Hughes raising the issue with the HSE again in recent weeks.
It remains a source of frustration when the unions with collective bargaining fail to act competently on such serious issues as Roles and Responsibilities.
This debacle again confirms, and can only show, that we are better off representing ourselves through the NASRA branch of the PNA, rather than leaving such issues in the hands of representatives from a union who clearly do not give this issue the attention it requires to fully deliver for ambulance staff.
Currently Roles and Responsibilities remain a mystery to the point where staff are unaware of the elements of the proposal or how it came about.
Alarmingly we see unions prepared to horse trade our terms and conditions in a manner where, for example, we would lose our unique agreement on overtime and allowances that we have enjoyed up to now.
Rather than accepting this kind of compromise, we should be adding to our terms and conditions and improving them and making the profession more attractive and sustainable.
The purpose of the exercise was to establish recognition of the professional competence of our work and for staff to be graded as such.
Instead, the proposal appears to miss this entirely, and we remain as a ‘servant of the board’ rather than being recognised alongside the other professionals.
The whole point of the Review has been missed, and alarmingly the recognised unions, despite the lack of engagement with staff, are now promoting industrial action.
As outlined there has been no information shared or consultation with NASRA on this matter despite our willingness to engage constructively in the process.
If the recognised unions insist on the HSE not providing PNA/ NASRA with the necessary information and consultation, then we cannot justify promoting a ballot for industrial action on our NASRA members.
It would be irresponsible of NASRA to do so in the absence of a clear understanding of the consequences of such a proposed agreement without the deserved and necessary inclusion of your opinion.
Until such time as the HSE engage with us on this issue, and unless the negotiating unions acknowledge our right to consultation, PNA / NASRA will not be balloting on any action without the opportunity to be involved in the process.
To this end if any of the recognised unions require our involvement at any level of the dispute the necessary courtesy and trade union solidarity will be required.
Finally, if the HSE genuinely believe in the inclusion of all staff in this process they too should engage with the PNA/NASRA General Secretary, Peter Hughes, on the matter.