A generalised assault is underway against the pay and conditions of workers in the private health sector. In the likes of the Bon Secours and the Mater Private the employers have sought to impliment paycuts in line with the governement attacks on public service pay.
However the Hermitage Clinic in Lucan has gone even further. In September/October 2009 they began a sham consultation with the clinic’s 300 staff (half of whom are nurses in the INMO and the remainder other technical and admin grades represented by SIPTU) about implemented cost saving measures. This came on the back of a major investor pulling out of the clinic.
In the beginning of December they announced an across the board 10% pay cut and the abolition of incremental pay and the maternity benefit scheme. At the time of writing these cuts are due to be implemented next week even though they have not gone through the legal formality of getting the workers to give their ‘written consent’ to alter the terms of their contract so there is likely to be a legal challenge on top of the ballot for industrial action that was agreed by the workers at a joint mass meeting of SIPTU and INWO members.
One worker told me
“The Hermitage management are the most autocratic I have known. In particular they are terrorizing the staff from outside the EU, Philipinos and Indian, threatening that their VISA’s will be revoked if they lose their jobs, a complete lie. The key investors in the Hermitage inlcude meat industrialist Larry Goodman and property developer Sean Mulryan who are interested in profits and not patient care. They do not recognise the union and have refused to negotiate over the cuts forcing us to make this stand.”
A question will be put by Independent TD Maureen O’Sullivan to the Minister of Health Mary Harney on the level of state support this private hosptial has received.
The Socialist Party supports these workers and calls for the Hermitage to be taken into public ownership as part of a properly funded one tier health care system to guaruntee the workers’ jobs and patient care.