Galway Advertiser 2010/GA_2010_03_04/GA_0403_E1_006.pdf
March 4 2010
Health disruption as union extends work-to-rule
BY MARY O'CONNOR Local health services experienced disruption yesterday afternoon (Wednesday) as the country's biggest public sector union stepped up its work to rule protest over pay cuts. IMPACT health service workers locally refused to answer telephones in public hospitals in the HSE West area from 9am to 1pm. However, workers responded to calls to A&E departments while those to critical services, such as intensive, coronary and cancer care, maternity/delivery rooms and theatres were screened regularly to identify emergencies. Some 500 workers locally, including clerical and administration staff up to and including general managers and allied professionals such as social workers, pharmacists and occupational therapists, took part in the campaign against public sector pay cuts. The action affected areas from hospitals to mental health services to community welfare offices. Janet Hughes, the assistant general secretary of IMPACT in Galway, Mayo and Roscommon, said the union tried to minimise the effect of the work-to-rule on the public. She said the action was necessary to protect members' jobs and pensions. "People would have experienced disruption because clerical/administration positions involve a huge amount of telephone contact. But we have an absolute obligation to defend our members, to protect their pay in terms of jobs and pensions. We are not going to continue this work-to-rule arrangement if it does not produce results, we will escalate our action. We have every intention of pursuing this until we achieve a fair and balanced agreement on payment and jobs. Our view is the national pay agreement served this country well in the 1980s and 1990s and in the first decade of this millennium and would serve the national interest equally well in this crisis." She said the public services' committee meets in Dublin next week and people can expect an escalation of action, most likely in the form of rolling work stoppages. While unions had this week given the HSE advance warning of which geographical areas would be affected each day, as action intensifies in future weeks less than 24 hours notice of disruption to services may be given. In a statement the HSE West said it met IMPACT last weekend to seek clarification on the intensification of industrial action which began this week. "Given the potential effect on patients and clients of the union imposing a ban on answering telephones for set periods of time this week, the HSE sought derogations from the union to ensure that disruption to health services was minimised and that patient safety was not compromised during the industrial action. "IMPACT agreed to grant derogations for switchboards and for all direct line emergency services such as emergency departments. The union also agreed to direct their members to screen calls related to critical services on an hourly basis to establish whether a direct action is required." The health authority spokesperson said patients and clients may experience difficulty in making contact with HSE services as industrial action intensifies. "The union has advised that the action will continue beyond this week and that generally less than 24 hours notice of disruption to services will be given. The HSE will continue to monitor the situation closely and will take all necessary steps to minimise the impact of industrial action on its patients and clients. "In relation to the unions' intention to refuse to deal with all political representations including parliamentary questions and FOI requests from this week, the HSE has advised the union that staff whose primary role is to address parliamentary and Freedom of Information requests will be reassigned to alternative similar work." The HSE West reiterated its commitment to ensuring patient safety is not compromised by any form of industrial action and stressed that this must remain a priority at all times for the organisation, unions and staff.
Oranmore women's day celebrations to help elderly
BY MARY O'CONNOR A coffee morning, which will be held in Oranmore on Monday to mark
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International Women's Day, will raise funds for older people in the Oranmore Maree parish. The event, which will take place at the Basilico restaurant at the Coach House Hotel at 11am, will finance a bus service to take older people in the area shopping on Fridays. "Twelve older people have asked me to provide a bus service to take them shopping every Friday," explains local resident and Fine Gael senator Fidelma Healy Eames. "I thought this was a very practical suggestion so we have decided to use International Women's Day to raise money towards this service. All are invited, men and women to our coffee morning." Older people in the parish who want to avail of this bus service should contact the senator directly. "Already we have managed to provide a free bus service for five older people who needed a lift to and from the parish centre in Oranmore every Tuesday. I am deeply grateful to Margaret McNulty who is providing
this minibus service free. The older people and their families are especially grateful saying it will make a difference to their lives. There has been no funding forthcoming from government for a rural bus service in our parish. International Women's Day is an opportunity for us to help ourselves." Mary Stout from Community Catering will demonstrate the nutritious meals available and delivered daily to older people's homes, at the coffee morning. Elaine O'Sullivan will provide discounted rates for glasses from Optique Opticians at Briarhill Shopping Centre while Lorna Kilgannon will show a range of secondhand designer garments from her new shop in Galway city. The Job Creation Initiative, Oranmore supported her in setting up her business.
Tuesday at 12noon
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