It is absolutely outrageous that the HSE has taken the decision to refuse to go to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). The PNA has said it would go to the WRC, which is the industrial relations platform and court where this matter should be teased out. The Minister is denying these workers their right to join a trade union of their choice. I and a cross-party group of Deputies asked for a meeting with the Minister on this issue and we have not heard from him. I gave him the letter last week.

I am disappointed the Minister for Health was not present in the Dáil today. He should be here to answer these questions and be accountable.

The PNA has negotiated and represented members of the health service for the past 49 years. It has a long history of advocating on behalf of staff and patients to ensure the delivery of quality health and mental health issues. The NASRA branch of the PNA has represented its members in a variety of industrial relations fora, including the WRC and Labour Court with which it meets. However, the HSE refused to engage with the union on grievance procedures and investigations. From 2010 the membership of NASRA has grown consistently.

Since its formation, NASRA union subscriptions were deducted by the HSE at source from members’ salaries and in January 2018 the HSE stopped deducting union subscriptions at source for new members. Last week, when I raised this dispute with the Tánaiste he made the point that this was an industrial relations issue for the HSE, which was very revealing. The HSE is a State employer and it should not have the authority to do that. It should allow this go to the WRC, hear its recommendations and follow them.