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WATCH: Ambulance staff on strike in Portlaoise over union row say they are left 'voiceless'

Michelle Hogan

Reporter:

Michelle Hogan


Ambulance personnel are on strike in Portlaoise and across the country today in a dispute over union representation.

On the picket line in Portlaoise today, a member of the ambulance service who did not want to be named told the Leinster Express they have been left ‘voiceless’ as their union, National Ambulance Service Representative Association (NASRA) under a branch of the PNA is not officially recognised by the HSE and therefore cannot negotiate on their behalf.

He said that when ambulance personnel were ‘frustrated’ with SIPTU representation over 500 members broke away and formed NASRA. Now, they are on strike looking for NASRA to be recognised by the HSE as an official and legitimate union.

“It was frustration by SIPTU members that SIPTU wasn’t representing us as we wanted them representing us as dedicated frontline professional paramedics. They just didn’t get into a negotiation with senior management of the HSE for stuff that has happened over the last couple of years.

“Understanding of our roles and responsibilities have never really been interpreted or there hasn't been a body that will come and look at our definitive roles and responsibilities.

“It’s not about pay at all it’s literally for representation that the NASRA union can go represent their work colleagues if they are in a dispute of any sort or if they need enhancement in the job or better working conditions for the job and that’s all we are here for, union recognition, the right to be recognised by the HSE.

"We want to be recognised as a legitimate union and get the recognition rights. We have tried at length to try to get negotiating rights they have been in discussion with management to try and get it but they are just not allowing it - this [strike] is the last resort we don’t want to do it," he said. 

The national strike from 7:00 am to 5:00 pm today involves more than 500 ambulance personnel including paramedics, advanced paramedics and emergency medical technicians.