Sinn Féin Senator Paul Gavan has called on the government to immediately re-start meaningful negotiations to deliver a pay rise for medical scientists, who have embarked on a series of days of strike action across the State.
Medical Scientists are the scientific professionals who carry out critical diagnostic testing of patient samples, and their union the Medical Laboratory Scientists Association (MLSA) represent 2100 workers across the state.
Speaking in response to the second week of strike action Senator Gavan said:
“I have taken the time to speak with representatives of the striking lab scientists and it is very clear to me that taking strike action is the last thing they wanted to do.
“However their pay claim goes back over 20 years, and despite numerous attempts to negotiate with the HSE, the Department of Health, and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, they have made no progress.
“As a result, up to 20% of approved Medical Scientist posts are currently unfilled in public hospitals.
“Our hospitals cannot function without these essential healthcare professionals yet government after government has turned their back on these workers and dismissed their very legitimate pay and career progression issues.
“What is really shocking is that the ballot for strike action was carried out last November and in the six months since then, the Government have failed to commence any meaningful negotiations to resolve this issue.
“They knew this crisis was coming, and the chaos that would ensure across our hospital systems, but the Minister for Health failed to act.”
“The crux of the dispute is that medical scientists carry out identical work to other scientific colleagues who work in hospital labs, but get paid on average 8% less.
“Minister Stephen Donnelly needs to immediately initiate new meaningful talks that have buy in from the Minister for Public Expenditure.
“Otherwise we are facing a situation of further chaos in the coming weeks. Not for the first time this government have failed to listen to these essential workers, failed to respond and left them with no choice but to take industrial action.”