IMPACT has this evening (Tuesday) accepted an invitation to attend a Labour Relations Commission (LRC) hearing on the dispute at the Limerick group of hospitals. In the meantime, the union’s members will maintain their limited industrial action in protest at the €250,000 salary paid to the hospital group’s chief operations manager. Staff at five hospitals are refusing to report to, or cooperate with, the manager from this week.
The work-to-rule means staff will refuse to acknowledge instructions from the manager, provide data to him, co-operate with changes directed by his office, or agree to relocate, redeploy or change assignments if instructed. IMPACT says the action will not affect service delivery, but has warned that it could escalate if staff are penalised for refusing to work with the manager.
The action was supported in a ballot by 90% of the IMPACT members in Ennis general hospital, Limerick regional hospital, limerick maternity hospital, Croom orthopaedic hospital and Nenagh general hospital.
IMPACT assistant general secretary Andy Pike said the action was designed to highlight the opposition of hospital staff to the excessive and unwarranted salary payments being made through a management consultancy. “The HSE director general has said the mid-west hospital group needs additional administration staff to provide vital services to patients. The money spent employing just one management consultant would cover the costs of at least five clerical staff to help the hospitals cope with increasing demands. In these circumstances, staff very much resent reporting to a senior manager who is being paid at least twice the correct rate for the job,” he said.
Mr Pike said the union would be writing again to the Public Accounts Committee, which is investigating the engagement of the manager through Starline, a private sector management company. “While the hospitals group is expected to take steps to fill the chief operations manager post, it still appears that they are intent on retaining this consultant on a salary way above the proper rate for the job. Our action will continue until we get confirmation that the Starline contract is finished,” he said.
IMPACT first wrote to PAC chairman John McGuinness in May, setting out its concerns on corporate governance and senior staff salaries in the hospital group. Mr Pike said any proper investigation would show the expenditure was unjustified.