Disruption to ambulance services is expected today as 500 ambulance personnel, all members of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA), undertake strike action.
The action will run from 7am to 5pm and is due to the HSE's refusal to recognise the National Ambulance Service Representative Association (NASRA), which is a branch of the PNA, as a representative body for members of the ambulance service.
NASRA was established almost a decade ago, but the HSE has never recognised it. It refuses to deduct NASRA union subscriptions via the payroll, as it does for other unions such as SIPTU.
The PNA said it is staging this strike in pursuit of its demand ‘to be members of, and represented by, the union of its choice'.
Ambulance personnel who are not members of NASRA are not expected to participate in the strike. However, contingency arrangements have been made in case of disruption to services, including the deployment of ambulances from the defence forces.
Meanwhile, further strikes within the health service appear inevitable after talks between the PNA, Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and the HSE failed to reach any agreement on Monday.
INMO members are set to go on strike for 24 hours on January 30, after 95% voted in favour of such action last month. If this dispute continues, there will be further 24-hour strikes on February 5, 7, 12, 13 and 14.
During these times, nurses and midwives will withdraw their labour, providing only lifesaving care and emergency response teams. The action is in response to poor pay and staffing levels.
Meanwhile, psychiatric nurses who are members of the PNA are also set to strike over staffing levels. They will refuse to work overtime on January 31 and February 1, 5, 6 and 7. They will then undertake full strike action on February 12, 13 and 14.
According to the INMO, the meeting between the three organisations was ‘deeply disappointing'.
"The employer made no proposals to avert the upcoming strike. We have referred the health employers to the Workplace Relations Commission, and they have agreed to attend. Preparations for the strike continue.
"There are now just days to go until Ireland's nurses and midwives go on strike. It's time for the Government to get real and make serious proposals to resolve this," commented INMO general secretary, Phil Ni Sheaghdha.