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20th February 2024, 17:51

​'Unacceptable' GHA has not kept commitment to extra days payment for nurses, says Unite

Published by GBC News

Unite the union says it's unacceptable that the Government and Health Authority have not kept to a commitment on extra days payments for nurses.

It points out these are days in lieu that nurses haven't been able to take due to operational issues, and which therefore have to be paid.

However, the GHA has this evening responded, saying it's disappointed by Unite's statement, and that the implementation of the agreement had failed on both sides.

The Time in Lieu affects staff who work on bank holidays, to ensure the health service continues to run properly.

Unite says a policy was agreed, but that there was a lack of effective communication among GHA management.

The union says the GHA had made a clear commitment to pay its staff on the 16th February, and that this deadline was set because management had not been organised enough to pay the extra days by the end of January.

Regional Officer, Sam Hennessy, says Unite has received written apologies from the GHA, but nothing from the Government.

He says nursing staff are already suffering from low morale, adding the union is seeking further meetings with the GHA to prevent this from happening again.

However, the Government has hit back, saying the GHA and Unite agreed in June last year, that the accrued days would be added onto the annual leave balance up to a maximum of five days, which would need to be taken as a block period during the year. The balance would then be paid to staff at the end of the year.

The GHA says the implementation of this agreement has unfortunately failed on both sides, with management starting the calculation of accrued extra days in the new year, and staff not taking the annual leave during the year.

The GHA says it met Unite reps in January to update them and set out an expected timeline for the matter to be resolved by the 16th February but due to various factors, including the resolution and processing of other Unite claims, the payment has had to be delayed until the 27th February.

The Minister for Health says the matter was not brought to her attention until the 15th February, nor was she made aware of the underlying facts by Unite. Furthermore, she says the Government does not get involved in HR issues within the GHA. Gemma Arias-Vasquez says she was provided with an explanation yesterday, and noted the GHA had tried to resolve the matter with an apology. Nevertheless, she says assurances have been given that a payment will be made on the 27th February and the GHA would try to ensure future payments are met promptly.

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Speaking on GBC News, Sam Hennessy laid the blame squarely on the GHA's door.