IMO warns that Government facing fines of millions of Euros as breaches continue.
European Commission confirms to IMO that it will investigate Irish Government for forcing NCHDs to work excessive hours
Commission states that it has underlined to Irish Government the need to “substantially accelerate and deepen their efforts..to eliminate excessive working hours and inadequate provision for minimum rest…”
Friday 26th July 2013. The European Commission is to carry out an investigation into complaints made by the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) against the Irish Government for abuses of the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) in respect of NCHDs (Non Consultant Hospital Doctors). The news – confirmed in a letter from the European Commission to the IMO - comes just a week after the IMO launched a major campaign to highlight the abuse of NCHDs - #24nomore
The Commission has confirmed to the IMO that it will investigate the complaints made by the IMO and that it will meet with the organisation in the coming weeks to discuss the complaints in detail. The Commission letter says that it will “assess the progress made by the national authorities in improving compliance with the Directive with a particular emphasis on the period January – June 2013.”
The Commission letter stated that it (the Commission) had engaged in “intensive discussions” with the Irish Authorities “in which the Commission has underlined the need to substantially accelerate and deepen their efforts …to eliminate excessive working hours and inadequate provision for minimum rest….”
Under the EWTD NCHDs are meant to be prevented from working in excess of 48 hours for each seven day period yet the IMO has demonstrated that on average Irish NCHDs are working over 63 hours per week and some are working for up to 100 hours in a week. The IMO has launched a national campaign “24 No More – Enough is Enough” to highlight the issue. It is commencing a ballot of NCHD members on 8th August to seek approval for industrial action - up to and including strike action - to force the Government to move on this issue.
The IMO wrote to the European Commission in March 2012 to complain about the lack of progress made by the Department of Health in implementing the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) for NCHDs. In its letter it described its “frustration” at the “inability of the Department or the HSE to design and implement EWTD compliant rosters for NCHDs”.
Comment from the IMO:
Speaking today, Val Moran, Senior Industrial Relations Executive, at the IMO said that Governments refusal to implement the EWTD for NCHDs was exposing the Irish taxpayer to the risk of millions of euros in fines; “Each time the EWTD is flouted the Commission can fine the Irish Government. As the EWTD is being flouted in hundreds of cases every day of the week the potential exposure of the Irish Government is enormous. The Government needs to tackle this problem now.”