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News / September 25, 2008

IMPACT health members suspend industrial action

by Guy Hiscott

Members of IMPACT trade union employed by the HSE and HSE-funded agencies suspended their industrial action on Wednesday 24 September, pending the outcome of a ballot on a settlement proposal by the Labour Relations Commission (LRC). The result of the ballot is expected in approximately three weeks’ time.

Negotiations between IMPACT and the HSE concluded on 23 September at the Labour Relations Commission. The negotiations were aimed at resolving outstanding issues at the heart of the current dispute, which developed as a result of the recruitment freeze imposed by the HSE in the final months of 2007.

Since May 2008, IMPACT members working in health have refused to cover posts left vacant by the recruitment freeze, and the action escalated in June to include the withdrawal of co-operation from reporting procedures.

Eamonn Donnelly, assistant general secretary with IMPACT, explained, ‘This proposal represents a very significant achievement for IMPACT members working in the Health Service. It includes a strong emphasis on a requirement for greater consultation between the HSE and IMPACT members.

We also have draft agreements between IMPACT and the HSE in relation to procedures regarding vacant posts, the use of agency staff, and an agreed process of consultation on issues regarding temporary staff.’

As part of the proposal, a number of outstanding agreements and third party recommendations, which had not been previously implemented, have been resolved or timetabled for immediate resolution. The proposal also ensures continued commitment to the 2004 Framework Agreement.

Mr Donnelly says that while the outstanding industrial relations issues have been brought to a conclusion, pending the ballot result, IMPACT’s campaign against health cuts would continue.

He said: ‘The commitment and support of our members, in sustaining the current industrial action, has been a decisive factor in coming this far. However, our members are still deeply concerned about any further cuts to public health services, and will continue to campaign against the systematic erosion of services.’