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HSE made no offer to health workers at Workplace Relations Commission meeting; Health unions refer pandemic compensation request to Labour Court

DUBLIN: Health unions have referred the matter of compensating health care workers for their efforts during the pandemic to the Labour Court after not receiving a satisfactory response from the government or the HSE.

Frontline workers, including healthcare workers, had approached the Workplace Relations Commission to find a solution, but after failing to obtain justice from the WRC, the unions decided to refer a request for a pandemic bonus to the Labour Court.

Yesterday, talks were held at the Workplace Relations Commission, but HSE officials made no favourable offer to frontline heroes. Instead, the representatives said they expect the recognition problem would be addressed in the autumn. They also said that the government should make a decision in this regard.

Health-care trade unions such as Siptu, Fórsa, INMO, IMO, and Unite have criticised the HSE for a lack of “tangible recognition.”

Various countries, including France, Northern Ireland and Denmark, have offered bonuses and pay rises in recognition of their selfless service in the healthcare sector. But here, the government made no offer other than praising their efforts.

Hope this fixes in the autumn!

The HSE said in a statement that it recognises and appreciates the extraordinary service and endurance provided by health workers during the difficult times.

“We have been advised that it is intended to address the recognition issue with regard to frontline workers in the autumn, when it should be a lot clearer where we are with regard to the COVID-19 pandemic,” the HSE said.

“We are not in a position to pre-empt any Government decision in advance of its consideration,” it added.

Long-term research to give fair recognition

Tony Fitzpatrick, chair of the National Joint Council of Health Sector Trade Unions said: “This is yet another disappointment in the long search for fair recognition. Last week the Minister for Health raised expectations that some tangible recognition was on the way, but today he sent his officials to talks empty handed.

“Healthcare workers have spearheaded the fight against the pandemic. They have worked far beyond their normal responsibilities, with thousands catching the virus in the line of duty.

“There needs to be some hope of genuine reward for frontline staff. Other governments have recognised their healthcare workforce’s contribution meaningfully – yet here we are forced to fight for it.”

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly said last week in Limerick that he would want to see some sort of recognition for the extraordinary service of health workers. But it has been more than a year since unions demanded some sort of special recognition for healthcare workers, and no action has been taken.

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