26 September 2023

IRELAND: Government contemplating COVID rewards

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The Irish Government is planning to reward Public Servants for their work during the pandemic, with extra leave and non-taxable vouchers among options under consideration.

It comes as unions representing healthcare workers issued a plea for Taoiseach (Prime Minister), Micheál Martin (pictured) to intervene in a row over recognition for health workers’ efforts.

Government sources said the current plans focused on recognising the work done across the public sector, rather than just being focused on some workers.

However, in a letter to Mr Martin, unions representing health sector workers called on him to “intervene immediately to authorise the Health Services Executive (HSE) and the relevant Government Departments to engage with health service unions to agree and implement the promised recognition without any further delay”.

The unions claimed there was growing frustration among healthcare workers over what they said was the HSE’s failure to put forward any proposals to deal with the matter at a recent Workplace Relations Commission hearing.

The group of unions said it was told the HSE was awaiting Government authorisation to engage with them.

In the letter to Mr Martin, the unions wrote that healthcare workers “appreciate the many supportive statements from you and other Government representatives [but] have yet to see any tangible progress towards recognition for their efforts, and in many cases, sacrifice”.

They said the impasse was “deeply damaging to the morale of all healthcare workers who, without exception, have demonstrated extraordinary commitment and willingness to respond to national and public need, as well as Government demands in response to the pandemic”.

The unions have referred the dispute to the Labour Court but want a political consensus on the issue, and claimed health workers in the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland and most European Union countries had seen their efforts recognised.

However, a statement from Chief Executive of the HSE, Paul Reid noted that the pandemic was far from over with 248 patients hospitalised with a COVID-19 diagnosis in a single day.

Dublin, 18 August 2021

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