FAQs – Dispute to Protect Clerical Jobs and Stop Outsourcing: Ballot

Looking for answers on the Dispute to Protect Clerical Jobs and Stop Outsourcing ballot? See below for the FAQs or download a copy here.

NOTE: Industrial action has been suspended. Please check your emails for more information, or reach out to local workplace representative or branch. Updates will be sent out over the coming period.

If you have more questions, then reach out to your Fórsa workplace representative or your local branch. When the ballot is open, a helpdesk will be open. Contact them by email at hwballot2023@forsa.ie.

All members of the clerical administrative and managerial grades within the HSE and Section 38 employers.

Breach of Collective Agreements

Early this year, we wrote to the HSE expressing our concern that the HSE and Section 38 employers continually ignored our collective agreements and were choosing to fill positions via agency workers or through procured services. This was particularly obvious when we continually observed positions at level of Grade V to Grave VII being filled via external competitions or agency workers.

The terms of our collective agreements are clear. The principal points of these agreements are:

• Grade V to Grade VII positions should be advertised within the health family in the first
instance. Management continues to breach this agreement.
• Should the employer fail to fill the position internally it is only then that it should be advertised externally for filling through direct employment.
• The employers should only use agency workers on rare occasions and only following
engagement with Fórsa.

Despite engagement with senior management of the HSE earlier this year regarding these issues, we continued to see a blatant disregard for our agreements across the country.

Therefore, the Health and Welfare Divisional Executive took the decision in late April to declare a trade dispute and we wrote to senior management informing them of this decision.

Recruitment pause

In addition to the above, we have become aware that the HSE has issued a recruitment pause across the system on the filling of all Grade VII positions and above. Furthermore, the head of acute services issued a recruitment pause on all management/administration grades pending a review. The rational for this recruitment pause relates to projected budget overruns.

On 24th July this progressed further when management in the HSE informed Fórsa that due to their concerns in relation to the number of clerical admin/managerial grades recruited in the last six months they are now putting in place a full pause on recruitment in the clerical admin stream (from Grade III above). The only departments that will be allowed fill posts from Grade III and above are those considered to be below their agreed headcount.

Senior management have taken the decision to only target managerial/administration grades to carry this financial burden. This is against the backdrop of the HSE and Section 38 employers continuing to pay millions of euros on external private consultants to offer advice. Funds that would be best served investing in their own employees.

No other grade or category across the HSE or Section 38s is subject to these harsh measures, which are reminiscent of the recruitment moratorium of the austerity years. This is completely unacceptable.

Our members have reported to us, the pressures they are under in trying to provide public facing/critical services across the organisation. They already feel over stretched and under resourced. To implement a recruitment pause, solely focused on managerial/administration grades, without form of consultation, is the final straw.

We cannot see a return to vacant posts emerging and our members being asked to carry out these duties we need to protect the vital role of the clerical admin / managerial grades.

Yes. The union’s elected Divisional Executive Committee at its recent meeting voted overwhelmingly to recommend that its members support this ballot for industrial action.

Next steps:
1. Members are being asked to update their information as a matter of urgency.
2. General meetings will continue to take place, either within your workplace or online. Please look out for further information from your Branch Executive.
3. A ballot helpdesk will be in operation during this time and queries can be directed to
4. The ballot will close on Thursday 10th August 2023, after which we will inform members of the outcome before writing to employers.
Members should note that if the result of the ballot is in favour of taking industrial action up to and including strike action, we are obliged to serve three weeks’ notice upon the employer of our intention to commence any form of industrial action.

  • Participate in any workplace information meetings arranged by your Branch Executive.
  • Encourage your colleagues to participate also.
  • Ensure you cast your vote as early as possible, once the electronic ballot opens on Monday 3rd July 2023.

Don’t leave others speak for you… Join Fórsa so you can vote on your job, your career, your rights