Hospitals May Be Hit By Wave Of Strikes

Hospitals and other health services around the country are facing the threat of major disruption as up to 35,000 angry staff, including frontline workers, ballot on industrial action.

IMPACT, which represents the majority of staff in the health service, confirmed yesterday that the national ballot, to be conducted over the coming weeks, is in response to growing frustration at cuts in the service and the the non-filling of hundreds of jobs.

“We will be balloting members over April — the push is coming from the members. They will be balloting for some form of industrial action. In conducting a ballot first and getting a clear mandate for industrial action we can then decide what form it would take,” said a spokesman.

IMPACT represents a cross section of health workers including nurses, occupational therapists, physiotherapists, clerical staff and managers.

It comes against a background of €300m cuts in spending due in 2008, as well as a threatened redundancy programme later this year.

Although the HSE is maintaining a tight squeeze on recruitment, it admitted recently that it needs another 1,863 full-time staff in order to meet its plan to deliver planned services this year.

An IMPACT spokesman said yesterday: “Members are frustrated at the ongoing effects of last year’s recruitment embargo and the proposed cuts by the HSE.” It has already emerged that at least €300m will have to be saved in order to stay within budget this year.


Among the first to ballot are staff in Tallaght Hospital in Dublin. One frustrated worker, told the Irish Independent yesterday the current work situation there is “really dire”.

Staff have now been instructed by union representatives not to take on any extra work that is not within the parameters of their own role.

The anger in the hospital has been sparked by the failure to address staff concerns over working practices, recruitment policy and the over-stretching.