Currently, the union’s members intend to maintain their limited industrial action in protest at the €250,000 salary paid to the hospital group’s chief operations manager. Staff at five hospitals are refusing to report to, or cooperate with, the manager from this week.
But a union spokesman said this is not interfering with patients or clinics. “The action involves mostly, clerical and administration staff with some managerial and clinical involvement, but patients using the hospital services would not notice anything,” the spokesman told the Limerick Post.
The work-to-rule means staff will refuse to acknowledge instructions from the manager, provide data to him, co-operate with changes directed by his office, or agree to relocate, redeploy or change assignments if instructed.
IMPACT has warned that the action could escalate if staff are penalised for refusing to work with the manager.
The work-to-rule is taking place at University Hospital Limerick, Ennis General Hospital, Limerick Maternity Hospital, Croom Orthopaedic Hospital and Nenagh General Hospital.
The action was supported in a ballot by 90 per cent of the IMPACT members.
IMPACT assistant general secretary Andy Pike said the action was designed to highlight the opposition of hospital staff to the excessive and unwarranted salary payments being made through a management consultancy.
“The HSE director general has said the mid-west hospital group needs additional administration staff to provide vital services to patients. The money spent employing just one management consultant would cover the costs of at least five clerical staff to help the hospitals cope with increasing demands. In these circumstances, staff very much resent reporting to a senior manager who is being paid at least twice the correct rate for the job,” he said.
Mr Pike said the union would be writing again to the Public Accounts Committee, which is investigating the engagement of the manager through Starline, a private sector management company.
“While the hospitals group is expected to take steps to fill the chief operations manager post, it still appears that they are intent on retaining this consultant on a salary way above the proper rate for the job. Our action will continue until we get confirmation that the Starline contract is finished,” he said.
The HSE said that the manager was employed by the management company and as such is not curtailed by the pay-cap.
A spokesman said the HSE intends to re-advertise the role, and HSE director general Tony O’Brien told the Public Accounts Committee last month that it had used an agency-based approach on an interim basis as the position had proved “impossible to fill”.