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HRA acceptance ‘not needed’

13 Jun 2014

Dr Gerald Crotty (centre), MRH Tullamore, is elected as IHCA President; with Dr Tom Ryan, Vice President; and Martin Varley, Secretary General. See here

There is “no logical reason” why the IHCA must register its agreement with the Haddington Road Agreement (HRA) in order to participate in pay talks, the Association has insisted.

The IHCA said it had a “statutory right” to be included in talks with the State and public service organisations on new-entrant consultant pay and contract terms and has demanded that such discussions now be arranged.

In a letter sent last week by outgoing IHCA President Mr Denis Evoy to Minister for Health Dr James Reilly, the IHCA — which represents 85 per cent of consultants — stressed it “should be included in the discussions on new-entrant consultant contract terms and remuneration” as required under the Association’s status, IR legislation and the provisions in existing contracts.

Under industrial relations legislation the IHCA can “represent its members in any negotiations of concern to its members”, the Association insisted.

The high-level implementation plan in the MacCraith group’s second interim report called for urgent IR engagement, including at the Labour Relations Commission (LRC), to address barriers to consultant recruitment.

The IHCA was not included in the discussions between the State and public sector unions that led to the LRC proposals on the HRA. However, the reductions in consultant salaries and increases in working hours proposed in the deal were applied to IHCA members in July last year, using the FEMPI legislation. The 30 per cent pay cut for new entrant consultants has meant 20 per cent of approved consultant posts are vacant or filled in a temporary basis, said Mr Evoy.

A meeting took place last week at the LRC between health service management and the IMO. Following what was described as a “useful” exchange, the meeting was adjourned and the process is due to reconvene at 9am next Wednesday (June 18).

The HSE, the Department of Health and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform were represented at last week’s meeting, with the union side represented by members of the IMO’s NCHD and Consultant national committees.

The MacCraith report considered that having two consultants working alongside each other, with a 40 per cent differential in pay and exactly the same level of responsibility, was not a sustainable model. This was believed to be one of the items now under discussion between the IMO and health service employers.

In an “unprecedented” move, this matter has been referred straight to the LRC. Normally, the LRC only becomes involved in the wake of a negotiating process, where agreement cannot be reached.

13 June 2014

Click here to view the full article which appeared in Irish Medical Times