Lunchtime Protests By 30,000 Health Workers

Health service workers belonging to the IMPACT trade union held lunchtime protests at 28 venues nationwide. 28,000 workers staged lunchtime protests today to highlight their dispute over staffing levels, which the IMPACT trade union claims is affecting patient services.

The staff, including therapists, managerial and administrative grades, claim that a recruitment embargo by the HSE has left 2,700 jobs unfilled and is affecting patient services.

The HSE has said there is no embargo on recruitment in the health service. It has invited IMPACT to talks on Monday in a bid to resolve the dispute.

The HSE has also warned staff that they could face disciplinary measures if the protests escalate.

Since last month, 28,000 IMPACT members in the health service have been working to rule over staffing levels. They have refused to co-operate with management systems, but insist they are avoiding any effect on patient care.

Last Monday, they escalated their non-cooperation to include reporting procedures.

Today, they began protests at 12.30pm at 28 venues nationwide. IMPACT insisted that the protests, which ran until 2pm, would not compromise patient care.

However, last Friday the HSE wrote to individual staff warning them that if their work to rule worsens, they could face disciplinary measures – including suspension.

IMPACT retaliated by warning that any attempt by the HSE to penalise its members for obeying union instructions would result in an immediate response without further warning.

So far no such disciplinary action has been taken. It is understood that if the protest starts to affect the core duties of staff, that could change.