Damien Farrell has restated Éirígí’s ongoing support for the nearly 500 ambulance staff who yesterday (January 22nd) withdrew their labour in support of their demand for trade union recognition. The National Ambulance Service Representative Association (NASRA) strike ran from 7am until 5pm.
NASRA is a branch of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA). To date, the Health Service Executive (HSE) has refused to recognise it as a representative body for staff in the National Ambulance Service. Workers in the Twenty-Six Counties have a constitutional right to join a trade union. However, there’s no legal obligation on the employer to recognise or negotiate with that union.
Speaking in relation to the dispute, Éirígí spokesperson Damien Farrell said,
“Ambulance staff are among the hardest workers in this state, They are doing a difficult, and sometimes dangerous, job within a chaotic and dysfunctional health service. They should be able to do their jobs without having to worry about pay, work conditions or union membership. They deserve more respect than Simon Harris and the HSE are currently giving them.
Workers should be represented by a union of their choice, not a union chosen by their employer. For many years significant numbers of ambulance staff have not wanted SIPTU representing them. The PNA have been negotiating on behalf of their members for forty years. The NASRA branch of the PNA has been in existence for nine years and now has about 500 members. There is therefore no rational reason for the HSE refusal to recognise the PNA as the negotiating union of these workers.”
Farrell concluded by calling for the establishment of a new public health service,
“Nurses, ambulance staff and other frontline workers in the health service are no longer willing to accept the dire conditions in which they are forced to work. For the HSE to refuse to recognise a trade union or even speak to their representatives is despicable. The entire health service is outdated and not fit for purpose. It needs to be replaced with a secular, single tier, publicly funded health service. Such a service would ensure that our health workers have decent conditions and a fair wage, allowing them to focus all of their energies on their patients instead of avoidable industrial disputes.”