Tullamore-based Fórsa delegate Paddy Payne.

Offaly union branch says HSE's privatising of recruitment is 'unacceptable'

The Fórsa trade union has announced that it is officially in a trade dispute with the HSE over its outsourcing of recruitment services, after an Offaly branch of the union described the situation as 'unacceptable'.

Fórsa represents 33,000 health workers across the country and its Health and Welfare divisional conference, which opened in Galway yesterday (Wednesday) evening, supported a number of motions about a 'creeping' privatisation of health services.

Offaly-based Fórsa delegate Paddy Payne tabled a motion urging the union to urgently negotiate for in-house recruitment services, as the HSE continues to use recruitment services for clerical, administrative and Health and Social Care Professional (HSCP) posts.

Mr Payne, who works in the HSE's Fair Deal office in Tullamore, said the use of private firms set a 'dangerous' precedent.

He told delegates: "I've had first-hand experience of dealing with these private sector recruitment agencies. They've no feel for the administration of the HSE.

"They're very difficult and inflexible to deal with, and they have a very poor knowledge of health services. The HSE should recruit more staff and in-source the recruitment function.

"If there are gaps in staffing, the HSE needs to recruit staff directly. Private outsourcing has been a failure," he said.

The Offaly branch motion described the outsourcing of recruitment to private sector recruitment firms as 'unacceptable', and said private companies provided an inefficient and unaccountable service to interview candidates and boards.

Officially announcing the trade dispute with the HSE over the over the outsourcing of recruitment, Ashley Connolly, the head of Fórsa's Health and Welfare division, said it took the issue extremely seriously.

Ashley Connolly, the head of Fórsa's Health and Welfare division, speaking in Galway yesterday. Photo: Gerry Stronge.

"We will not tolerate the privatisation of our members core work. We will not allow recruitment agencies to come in and take the work of our members, work that should go to direct employees.

"We have notified the HSE that we are in a trade dispute, and that we will be commencing a process of engagement with our members on this issue.

"We will take whatever steps are necessary to protect our members' core work," said Ms Connolly.