Psychiatric nurses begin two-day strike in union recognition dispute

A two-day strike by psychiatric nurses ambulance personnel is under way.

The industrial action will run from 7am to 5pm across the country as members take to the picket line for the second time in a month amid an ongoing dispute over union recognition.

More than 500 ambulance paramedics and emergency medical technicians have chosen the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) as the trade union to represent them but the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) said it already recognises a number of unions for ambulance staff.

PNA general secretary Peter Hughes said the HSE had previously ignored requests from the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) to find a resolution to the dispute.

He added “the tactics of the HSE in this dispute have only added to public concern about the adequacy of the national ambulance services to cope during the strike”.

The HSE National Staff Sector Survey 2018 published late last year revealed 69% of national ambulance service staff had experienced bullying or harassment in the last two years .

More than half (51%) said they had personally experienced discrimination at work and only 8% felt valued in their organisation.

Solidarity TD Mick Barry, referring to the survey, said the signs had been there for months that ambulance staff were dissatisfied.

He referred to the survey as an “explosive document” and said the HSE is pushing “overstretched and underpaid” staff beyond their limits.

“The service has suffered from years of under-investment, which leaves it short of hundreds of staff and hundreds of ambulances,” the Cork TD said.

“Today is the third day of national strike action and the issue is clearly not going to just go away.

“The Minister for Health needs to intervene and give clear direction that this trade union should be recognised.

“The issues in the service will then have to be addressed including both the issues of resources and bullying.

“The entire trade union movement should support the ambulance strikers up to and including solidarity action if the Government and the HSE continue to refuse to budge.”

The previous strikes were on January 22 and February 15.

The HSE has been contacted for comment.

- Press Association

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