Tuesday, 26 February 2019
Department of Health
377. To ask the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the findings of the Health Sector National Staff Survey 2016 and the National Ambulance Service Report January 2017 carried out by a company (details supplied) that found 31% of respondents claimed discrimination in relation to their trade union activity in addition to other significant workplace difficulties; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9496/19]
397. To ask the Minister for Health if his attention has been drawn to the Health Sector National Staff Survey 2016, National Ambulance Services Report January 2017 undertaken by a company (details supplied); if so, his views on the fact that 31% of respondents that claimed discrimination in relation to their trade union activity; and the way in which he plans to address the continued refusal by the HSE to attend the Workplace Relations Commission with a union to find a solution to the ongoing dispute. [9560/19]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 362, 377 and 397 together.
The Deputies have raised a number of issues in relation to a Health Sector National Staff Survey which was carried out in 2016. The purpose of the survey was to measure employee sentiment and engagement within the publicly funded Health Sector. I understand that within the National Ambulance Service there was a 50% response rate.
As with all surveys, it raised a number of both positive and negative results. These results have prompted the National Ambulance Service to take a range of measures to address the areas where improvements could be made.
There are a number of ongoing programmes and initiatives being undertaken and supported by the National Ambulance Service. For example, a number of NAS managers across the country have undertaken Leadership Development Programmes including Continuous Quality Improvement courses using the Lean Sigma process.
The NAS is also developing anti bullying work place initiatives in line with the Positive Workplace Programme and bespoke sessions for the NAS are currently in development. Staff Health & Wellbeing initiatives and programmes are ongoing in the NAS as part of Healthy Ireland including significant focus on staff health initiatives such as mental wellbeing, physical activity, health checks and improving the workplace environment.
I will now move to discuss the PNA/NASRA dispute. As I have stated before, SIPTU is the main union recognised by the HSE and has negotiating rights for frontline ambulance grades employed by the Executive. Unite and FORSA also represent some ambulance grades. As a result, the HSE deducts subscriptions at source for those ambulance staff that are members of those unions. However, the National Ambulance Service Representative Association (NASRA) is not recognised by the HSE and, therefore, does not have negotiating rights.
Whilst individuals have a right to membership of any trade union, if they choose to join an association which is not recognised by their employer, such membership is not facilitated by their employer. This means that the HSE does not facilitate the deduction of union subscriptions for this particular Association.
While it is regrettable that the PNA has taken industrial action, it is not possible to negotiate with a union which is not recognised as having negotiating rights for ambulance grades. I have asked my Department to engage with the HSE to explore ways forward to see if we can progress a resolution to this dispute.