Two-tier approach to safety of St John of God workers not good enough – Munster
Sinn Féin TD for Louth and East Meath Imelda Munster TD has hit out at the government’s two-tier approach to health workers’ safety during last week’s severe weather event.
Speaking in the Dáil, Deputy Munster raised the case of St John of God health workers who were denied paid leave if they were unable to report for work during Storm Emma. This is despite the fact that a red severe weather warning was in place across the state and travelling to work was unsafe for many people.
Deputy Munster said:
“This organisation is paid for by the state via the HSE. These workers provide essential services for vulnerable people in our society. Their work is invaluable.
“Last week, workers received a letter which on the one hand said that the safety of employees is paramount, while also informing them that they are not entitled to paid leave during Storm Emma.
“The letter went on to say that was adverse weather warnings are now the norm, that they should not ‘be treated any differently to in the past’, which suggests a very worrying flippancy in approach to the safety of workers.
“The Minister performed a U-turn last week, announcing that HSE staff who were unable to report for work last week would not lose their pay, despite an earlier threat to the contrary.
“Why are staff working for HSE-funded organisation being treated differently?
“The state has chosen to outsource health services to private organisations, but this should not mean that their staff are not afforded the protections of their colleagues.
“It is the state’s job to provide health services. And it is the state’s job to ensure that health workers are protected.
“If the Minister is not willing to review the state’s ongoing policy of outsourcing and privatisation, I would ask him at least to ensure that all workers in state-funded health services are afforded the same status and protections as their colleagues in the HSE.”