Frontline workers must be recognised for their role in protecting nation

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LABOUR health spokesperson Duncan Smith has urged the HSE to immediately begin talks in good faith following a Labour Court recommendation on Covid compensation. Backing union calls for justice for frontline workers, Deputy Smith said the Government must pay more than lip service to the people who kept the country going during the pandemic.

Deputy Smith said:

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“18 months ago nurses, doctors, healthcare assistants, cleaners, lab scientists, and multiple other workers across our hospitals and primary care system faced a nightmare scenario of a virus with no vaccine or cure. Our healthcare workers reported to the frontline of the fight against Covid-19, often with little or no PPE at the start, and have delivered care for the Irish people despite extremely difficult conditions. They had to self-isolate away from their families often for weeks so that they could provide the frontline care. They are heroes but they’ve had enough of platitudes – they need to be compensated for their work.

“Many of us know first hand the sacrifices made by frontline workers to care for our loved ones. They held hands and offered comfort to the sickest among us. They stoically faced difficult and dark days where it felt like our hospitals would be overwhelmed. These workers have gone above and beyond the call of duty for Ireland over the past year and it should be recognised.

“It’s already been done in other countries so why not here? France have given an average of a €183 a month pay rise to healthcare workers, NHS workers in Scotland received a £500 bonus, frontline workers in Canada have received a $1,200 bonus. We know that some sectors, such as the retail sector, offered bonuses to staff who worked on the frontline.

“I am reiterating the Labour Party’s calls to the Government to engage in good faith and put forward a proposal that goes some way in addressing the hard work and sacrifices of our frontline workers. The past year has been stressful enough for everybody without adding in protracting negotiations on special recognition that is duly deserved.”