Protest On Here

More than 16,000 patients had procedures and appointments cancelled today as a result of a public services day of action in protest at proposed cuts in next month’s budget. A quarter of a million public sector workers took part in the 24-hour stoppage which resulted in closing schools, delaying social welfare payments and disrupting hospital services. Our economy is broke and with just weeks to go to a tough budget, a nationwide strike is the last thing this country needs.

Today’s day of action will have done nothing constructive and will only add to the problems. Those that work in public services are lucky to have secure jobs and pensions. The real casualties of the economic downturn are the many thousands who have lost their jobs in the private sector. Public sector workers are now threatening to stage a second nationwide strike on December 3.

After today’s disruption of the health service, I’ve lost any sympathy for public sector workers. In the midst of a serious swine flu pandemic, it’s outrageous that vaccination clinics were cancelled today. I find it totally unacceptable that the public sector unions have dragged the most vulnerable in society into a dispute with government over their terms and conditions. As my own health has been put at risk by this dispute, I have good reason to protest.

13 Responses to Protest On Here

  1. Annb says:

    I hear your frustration Steph, throw the worst flooding in living memory into that mix and the impetus behind the strike really doesn’t make sense. The unions must move with the times – they have consistently failed to negotiate in a constructive manner and have now played into the government’s hands by widening the rift between public and private sector workers at a time when unity is of paramount importance. I thought of you yesterday and how frustrated you must have felt to be at home when you should have been in hospital. Warm hugs winging their way to you from the wild and windy west!

  2. Steph says:

    Ann – Thanks! You’re absolutely right, I felt incredibly frustrated yesterday by the pointless nature of this strike. We have enough woes without them adding to it. The country would be so much better served if the public and private sector joined forces to agree on a shared vision that puts jobs first.

    On driving home from the nursing home yesterday evening, I passed by the hospital I attend and found it hard to feel any sympathy for the staff who were picketing outside in the high winds and rain. They don’t seem to realise how lucky they are to have a job at the moment!

  3. Grannymar says:

    I never saw the point of ‘Strikes’ and thankfully in all my working life was never involved in one…. Unless you mean walking to work when the buses were off.

    My heart goes out to all those who had surgery or investigative procedures cancelled because of these strikes, but I think also of those who are out of work and struggling to find a way to put food on a table and feed a family.

    How many people living in Ireland during the grand days of the Celtic Tiger ever thought to put money aside for when the tiger ran out of steam? Very few I bet!

    This so called recession is world wide and we all have to tighten our belts. I wonder how many of those protesters yesterday will now need time off from their good warm work to recover from the effects of driving wind and rain…. blaming it on swine flu of course!

    Time I went off to cool down!

  4. Steph says:

    Grannymar – Thank you for your support and for bringing your renowned common sense to this argument.

    I, too, have never taken part in a strike although I do believe in the right to protest. Everyone has a right to have their voice heard but not when it is to the detriment of others. The irony of yesterday’s dispute is that it caused enormous disruption to those who depend on public services and left the wealthier sections of society (including private medicine) unaffected.

    On television (Prime Time) last night, they featured the lives of various workers in the public sector. One single woman, on a salary of almost 56K, stated that she couldn’t afford any more cuts. What planet are these people living on? They seem to have no comprehension of how precious it is to have job security. The majority of people that I know in the private sector, have taken huge hits but continue to work long hours for very little reward, in the hope that the business will survive the downturn.

    http://www.rte.ie/news/2009/1124/primetime_av.html?2655602,null,230

  5. Geri Atric says:

    Hi Steph, hope you are holding in there without too much pain (preferably none of course!).

    I came across this article on the BBC news this morning and considering your own battle with MRSA, thought you might be interested. You are probably up to date anyway, with all the latest development in the war on superbugs, but since you are off to hospital again soon, I thought it might be something to thrust under the noses of your doctors(?!) and demand they place an order for it immediately!

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8379604.stm

    Good luck next week Steph, X.

  6. Steph says:

    Geri- Thanks for your good wishes! My head is still very definitely oozing with infection and pressure is building around my right eye again so next week’s trip to the operating theatre, can’t come soon enough. Having enjoyed several months free of headaches, I’m now back topping up with daily pain relief.

    Thanks for the item on the plasma bug-busting device. It sounds interesting but like so many other developments, is still a long way off being utilised for patient safety. I was actually more taken with the “wash your hands” mat shown in the article as I think it’s a great way to get a message across.

    Infection control personnel seem to think that if they cover every square inch of wall with notices, people will pay attention. In fact, the opposite is true in my experience as I find I give up paying attention when bombarded with signs whereas one clear message, will hit home.

  7. Rummuser says:

    Public sector everywhere is the same. Please read this:http://www.city-journal.org/2009/eon1123sg.html

    In India,last year, the Chief Minister of our state lost his job because the public blamed him for the 26/11 incident and on the anniversary interview, he said, that politicians are accountable but the bureaucrats do not.

  8. Steph says:

    Rummuser – That’s a fascinating article – thanks!

    It used to be the case that public sector employees earned lower salaries than those working in the private sector and instead, enjoyed the benefit of job security and a good pension. Today, in Ireland, their salaries are now 20% higher than the private sector with the same perks still in place and yet they still claim to be worse off than the private sector.

    I was disgusted to learn this week that the union leaders are all on huge salaries. Respect for their cause is hard to find when you realise that the public service is bankrupting this country.

  9. Achelois says:

    I just want to say thanks for the post and subsequent links etc. It is an education indeed & I am still learning so don’t feel qualified enough to comment further. I am just sorry that this impacted on you & the others whose procedures were cancelled. I hope you are not in too much pain and your procedure is rescheduled poste haste.

  10. Steph says:

    Achelois – Hi! there. I feel very sorry for anyone who was due to have major surgery last Tuesday as it’s really tough having to go through the whole build-up to it all over again. To make matters worse, the unions are now threatening another 24 hour day of action next Thursday ( Dec 3) which means that thousands more patients will be used as pawns in this dispute.

    My surgery has luckily been rescheduled to happen before the next day of strike action so I should be okay this time. Fingers crossed!

  11. Baino says:

    I have mixed feelings about this Steph. Traditionally medical staff don’t strike, they consider their jobs a vocation rather than anything else but I get the impression that in Ireland particularly, people need to raise their voices and stop complaining about things. Perhaps striking is the only way to receive that kind of attention.

    You’re right though about public servants not appreciating the security they have in their workplace. As you know I’ve been a casualty of the recession in the private sector and even now, have a 2 year term position that’s hardly security.

    Sorry, typical Libran can’t make my mind up response!

  12. Steph says:

    Baino – Cheers! This country is in crisis. Just about everyone is suffering. The only way we’ll get back on track is if everyone pulls together. The public sector were hit with a 7% levy last year and consider they’ve paid their way. They are oblivious to the melt-down going on in the private sector and continue to insist that they are hard done by. Using patients as pawns last week, didn’t win them any friends.

  13. Baino says:

    Ah I understand. Our public service has an employment freeze. No new permanent positions. Unfortunately, this means they’re paying premium prices for agency staff. Naturally the workers don’t get the kish, the profits go to the agencies who employ them. I wonder what happened to Paddy Bloggit, he was a bit pissed off at the 7% reduction?

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