'Frustrated' doctors ballot for industrial action over pay dispute at University Hospital Limerick

Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

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Fintan Walsh, Health Correspondent

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fintan.walsh@limerickleader.ie

'Frustrated' doctors ballot for industrial action over pay dispute at University Hospital Limerick

DOCTORS at University Hospital Limerick will hold a ballot for industrial action this Thursday afternoon, over an ongoing payment dispute between staff and management. 

The issue surrounds a dispute between interns and non-consultant hospital doctors (NCHDs) and UHL management over non-payment of unrostered overtime. 

UHL has agreed to accept and pay all unrostered hours that worked, submitted and consultant-approved by Thursday, February 22. 

In the event that IMO members vote in favour of industrial action and payments are not issued, industrial action will take place at UHL. 

A spokesperson for the union said that this could include strike action. 

This is the second time that the union has balloted for industrial action over the same issue in recent years. The last time was on January 8, 2016. 

Last Thursday, a ballot for industrial action was averted following talks between the IMO and UL Hospitals Group management. 

“If this agreement is upheld, no industrial action will be necessary. However, if this commitment is not upheld, we will have a mandate to take industrial action.

“It is regrettable that the regime in University Hospital Limerick has forced NCHDs to resort to the threat of industrial action for payment of hours they have worked in service of patient care. However, the legitimate frustration among these doctors has now reached a critical point.”

The UL Hospitals Group previously said that it issued €2.5m in overtime payments between October and December.

Regarding the ongoing pay dispute, the spokesperson said that it “greatly values the hard work and dedication of our interns”.

“We take our responsibilities as an employer with the utmost seriousness. Equally, the executive at UL Hospitals Group has a fiduciary duty in terms of managing public monies. We have a responsibility to control payroll costs in the interests of protecting services to our patients.”

The spokesperson said that it “rejects any assertion that unrostered overtime claims, once the agreed process has been followed, are not being honoured”. 

The spokesperson previously said: “Each year, UL Hospitals Group welcomes medical interns to the Group as part of their ongoing training and we greatly value the hard work done by all of our highly skilled NCHDs.”