By Cate McCurry, PA & Joleen Murphy
Medical scientists have suspended further industrial action in their dispute over pay and conditions.
They've accepted an invitation to attend the Labour Court for exploratory talks.
Both the Medical Laboratory Scientists Association and HSE/Department of Health have accepted the invitation.
The MLSA has now called on its 2,100 members to resume work as normal tomorrow.
Up to 30,000 medical procedures and appointments have been cancelled as medical scientists take part in strike action.
Meanwhile, the Taoiseach said that “optimal use” must be made of the industrial relations machinery to resolve the ongoing strike action by medical scientists.
The scientists had withdrawn routine laboratory services in protest over pay and conditions and will continue their protest on Wednesday from 8am until 8pm.
The action will affect routine hospital and GP services, including the analysis of blood and urine samples, scans and other tests, across the country.
Earlier, Taoiseach Micheál Martin had said the dispute between the Medical Laboratory Scientists Association (MLSA), the Department of Health and HSE should be resolved through the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) or within the Labour Court.
“In our view, and in my view, optimal use must be made of the industrial relations machinery of the state,” Mr Martin told the Dáil on Tuesday.
“Be it the WRC or the Labour Court in respect of getting this issue resolved.
“There would have been significant informal contact over the weekend and the issue is about getting all sides into the process, into either the WRC or the Labour Court, to get this resolved, within broad industrial relations frameworks, because at the end of the day, Government wants a resolution of this.”
There are around 2,100 members of the Medical Laboratory Scientists Association (MLSA).
Minister must act immediately to resolve the Medical Scientists strike – Senator @paul_gavan
"They knew this crisis was coming, and the chaos that would ensure across our hospital systems, but the Minister for Health failed to act."https://t.co/Pzw89JSFFZ @MedLabAssoc pic.twitter.com/vTWaBwQEaW
— Sinn Féin (@sinnfeinireland) May 24, 2022
Pearse Doherty, Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on finance, said the strike has caused “significant widespread disruption” to the health service.
“Medical scientists are on strike today because of a basic lack of respect and recognition of the crucial role that they play and delivery of our health services,” Mr Doherty said.
“They are among the unsung heroes of this pandemic. Medical scientists essentially designed our Covid-19 testing system from scratch.
“Since the first strike action last Wednesday, the Medical Laboratory Scientists Association say that neither the Department of Health nor the HSE has come to them with a meaningful proposal, nor an invitation to talk that could resolve the issues.”
Before the announcement this evening, Pearse Doherty had called for a fresh round of talks.
“We need those urgently aimed at getting a resolution and these talks most crucially involve the Department of Public Expenditure.
"That’s the department at the end of the day who puts the money on the table, they have to be at the table,” Mr Doherty added.