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'Double standards' on Covid bonus for hospital catering workers

More than half of all contracted catering workers in the country’s hospitals have yet to receive any special Covid payment for working during the pandemic.

That’s according to Galway Senator Aisling Dolan (pictured) who highlighted the plight of these essential workers, citing in particular the situation at her local Portiuncula Hospital in Ballinasloe.

But there’s no happy ending in sight for the 55 per of them who are so far empty-handed, given the reaction to her plea in Seanad Eireann last week.

Minister of State Martin Hayden said that there were individuals or groups of workers, who worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic, who were not covered by these criteria for payment.

He said that it was difficult to draw a line on the matter but that the Government based its decision on the risks faced by ‘eligible frontline health care workers’.

Senator Dolan, Fine Gael’s Seanad spokesperson on Education and Mental Health, said that contract workers – in catering and cleaning services – took the same risks as health care staff to keep patients safe during the crisis.

“They brought meals to patients in Covid-19 wards. However, almost a year and six months later, these contract employees have still not received payment,” she said.

The Ballinasloe Senator said that she was assured that once the eligible front-line HSE workers received their payments, the contract employees would also be catered for.

“These contract employees, who are mainly women, from Portiuncula Hospital have come to me again to ask where their payment is,” she said.

“I ask the Minister for Health why they and their families are left waiting. These staff on lower incomes are still waiting for this acknowledgement from Government, the Department of Health and the HSE.

“They worked alongside their colleagues employed directly by the HSE in the same roles and doing the same work, and they see how all other groups have been paid in advance of them.

“HSE employees, nurses, doctors and health and social care professionals received this payment last year and it was well deserved, but why is this group left waiting?” asked Senator Dolan.

She said that the group she spoke to at Portiuncula Hospital were proud of what they achieved, their engagement with patients and how they contributed to saving lives while working with colleagues in hospitals countrywide.

“It is important this invaluable team spirit in hospital environments across the country is not tarnished by further delays,” Senator Dolan added.

For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune:

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