Minister must intervene to settle Covid test centre swabbers pay dispute

23 June 2022

Labour health spokesperson Duncan Smith has today (Thursday, 23rd June) challenged the Minister for Health, Simon Donnelly to step up and resolve an escalating dispute between SIPTU and public health service management over a review of pay rates for Covid test centre swabbers.

Deputy Smith said:

“It is utterly unacceptable that the HSE and Department of Health feel they can walk away from these essential workers and not honour a clear commitment to review their grade as part of a wider job evaluation scheme. They are genuinely appalled and totally incensed by the lack of respect. This broken promise is a kick in the teeth to Covid test centre swabbers who provide a key role in the test and trace approach adopted by this Government in response to the pandemic. As it stands and despite growing case numbers, the Government proposes to strip back Covid testing facilities from next week and these workers will be left high and dry. The Minister for Health needs to step up and personally intervene, even at this late stage to ensure that this is dealt with once and for all.

“The reality is that these demands were met in very challenging environments when there was enormous uncertainty as to the severity of the virus and very limited access to PPE. These workers put their own health on the line and their family members at risk to serve in the Government response to the pandemic.

“SIPTU members are rightfully and simply demanding that a commitment to allow the swabber grade to be considered under the support staff job evaluation scheme is followed through on, considering the contribution that community swabbers made throughout the pandemic that should not be a huge ask for the Minister, his officials or public health management.”

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