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Sinn Féin calls for 'all-Ireland approach to working hours of junior hospital doctors'

15 April, 2004

Sinn Féin East EU candidate Cllr John Dwyer has today called for an 'all-Ireland approach to working hours of junior doctors.' Cllr Dwyer made his call after it emerged that the British government was seeking to extend its exemption from an EU working time directive, which says that member states must enforce a 58 hour working week, dropping to 48 hours per week from 2009.

Speaking today, Cllr Dwyer said:

"We now have a situation where the Irish Government is way behind in implementing the working time directive and the British government is seeking an exemption, thus condeming junior doctors throughout the island of Ireland to unacceptably long working hours.

Sinn Féin is in support of the protection of workers rights throughout the EU. It is our view that any directive, which caps the amount of hours in a working week, is a forward thinking and sensible measure.

"However, Sinn Féin is concerned that junior doctors in the Six Counties are exempt from this directive. Whilst junior doctors are not physically made to work extra hours in the Six Counties, I believe that doctors feel pressurised into putting in extra hours, to make up for the inadequacies of the health system. We are all well aware of the horror stories of junior doctors falling asleep at work, because they are exhausted from working unacceptable and inhumane hours.

"We have an unequal situation in regards workers rights throughout the island. Sinn Féin are calling for the standardisation of working hours for junior doctors, and all other workers for that matter. What is needed is an all Ireland approach to this issue". ENDS

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