Health staff ballot for action after employers renege on Lansdowne Road job evaluation deal

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“Our health service members backed the deal on the clear understanding that it would deliver the reopening of the HSE scheme. I agree when I hear ministers say that Lansdowne Road is the only game in town. But I can’t find the section of the agreement that allows management to pick and choose the bits it wants to abide by” – IMPACT national secretary Eamonn Donnelly

Over 8,000 health service clerical, administrative and management staff are balloting for industrial action over management’s failure to meet its commitment to re-open the HSE Job evaluation scheme. IMPACT says both the HSE and Department of Health are in breach of the Lansdowne Road agreement, which contains a commitment to reintroduce the scheme that was unilaterally shelved by health service management in 2008.

Job evaluation, which was meant to be reintroduced for health service clerical and administrative grades in June 2016, offers staff the prospect of an upgrading if their job roles and responsibilities are found to have increased sufficiently. Its eight-year suspension has led to a significant backlog of existing and potential applications from workers who have taken on substantial extra responsibilities as staff numbers fell dramatically during the crisis.

IMPACT national secretary Eamonn Donnelly said the union had identified job evaluation as a core issue in the Lansdowne Road talks last year. “Our health service members backed the deal on the clear understanding that it would deliver the reopening of the HSE scheme. I agree when I hear ministers say that Lansdowne Road is the only game in town. But I can’t find the section of the agreement that allows management to pick and choose the bits it wants to abide by,” he said.

Union representatives are incredulous that management is stalling on a deal reached as recently as April, when the HSE agreed the terms and timetable for the reintroduction of the scheme. When health management failed to follow through on the agreement, IMPACT raised the issue at the LRA ‘health sector oversight body,’ which monitors implementation of the agreement in the sector.

“It subsequently became clear that health service management wanted to renege on the deal, despite the clear LRA commitment that the scheme would be re-opened,” according to Mr Donnelly.

Job evaluation is an established tool that allows the knowledge, skill and responsibilities associated with individual jobs – rather than grades or staff categories – to be assessed and appropriately rewarded. While a job evaluation doesn’t guarantee an upgrading, many health staff believe their roles have grown considerably as they have taken on more work and responsibility over the years.

The IMPACT ballot closes on 12th August, when the precise form of industrial action will be decided.

Related audio:

IMPACT national secretary Eamonn Donnelly spoke to Gavan Reilly on Today FM’s The Last Word (Wednesday 27th July) about the dispute in which over 8,000 IMPACT members in health service clerical, administrative and management staff are balloting for industrial action over management’s failure to meet its commitment to re-open the HSE job evaluation scheme. Listen via this link (from 26:30).