SIPTU members working in St. Patrick's Mental Health Services, James’s Street, Dublin 8, will tomorrow (Wednesday, 29th January) begin the process of balloting for strike action in a dispute resulting from a management decision to outsource household and catering services to third party providers without agreement. SIPTU Organiser, Aideen Carberry said: “Our members believe that this unilateral action is an attempt by management to not only provide these essential services on the cheap, but to remove loyal workers from a staff defined benefit pension scheme by the backdoor. Our longest serving member has been working for the organisation for almost 45 years. Management and service users alike have previously complimented the work our members perform for the organisation in household and catering so we can only deduce that this is a miserly attempt to save money for the organisation and we believe the service will suffer because of it.” “In 2017, the employer commenced a review of both catering and household services. At the time, SIPTU representatives objected on the grounds that the review in catering was being carried out by a company already providing catering services to the hospital. SIPTU also called for a full engagement with staff, prior to any recommendation on outsourcing being taken to the Board of Governors. SIPTU repeatedly sought updates on the review. These calls fell on deaf ears. In the summer of 2019, union representatives were advised that the decision to outsource these services had been made and contracts signed with the providers. This lack of respect towards the staff and their representatives is totally unacceptable.” She added: “Our members are absolutely furious about how St Patrick’s Mental Health Services management has dealt with this situation. The staff and their union representatives have openly called for talks to commence for an agreement to keep the staff in direct employment. These calls have so far been ignored by management and our members see no alternative but to ballot for strike action. We are calling on St Patrick’s Mental Health Services management to reverse its decision and to engage with SIPTU representatives in a meaningful dialogue that will keep the services in-house and not impact on patient care and safety.”