At the Reform Alliance national chit-chat Ed Walsh popped up to talk about what the Health Services need. You might remember Ed Walsh – former President of Limerick University and the one who spread nonsense about the number of ‘welfare-tourists’ in Ballyconnell (you can read it about here and here).
Anyway, he made two calls at the weekend:
Mr Walsh called for greater privatisation of the health service, with other speakers calling for the “O’Leary-isation” of the sector to achieve efficiencies and better management. Mr Walsh also said it took Ryanair’s Michael O’Leary to make Aer Lingus more competitive and efficient, and said a further €3 billion health cuts are needed.
Let’s deal with the latter point first – the call for a further €3 billion in health cuts. Since the start of the crisis, Health expenditure has been cut by 12.6 percent, with the Government pencilling in another 2.6 percent cut this year.
So Ed, seeing that the health budget has been cut by over 15 percent, is still not happy. He wants to cut another €3 billion out of the health budget. That would mean additional cuts of 22 percent. Sure, what’s another round of even harsher cuts?
But Ed has an idea: the “O’Leary-isation” of the health services. Now I’m not going to even try to summarise the ‘better’ management of Ryanair. Acres of newsprint and websites have been devoted to Ryanair’s organisational culture. But this is a good encapsulation:
‘A former member of the cabin crew for Ryanair has blown the whistle on the working conditions at the budget airline company . . .Sophie Growcoot revealed the details of her employment contract with the company Crewlink, which acts as a contractor for Ryanair.
[She] explained that Crewlink forced her to take three months of compulsory unpaid leave a year during the winter months, when air traffic is slower. During that period of leave, the contract forbid her from taking additional employment yet provided no compensation.
Other grievances Growcoot listed included making her pay about $540 for her uniform and another approximately $2,700 for a required safety course. They also only paid her for the hours she was “in the air,” which didn’t include pre-flight briefings, turnaround time between flights, sales meetings or time on the ground resulting from delays or flight cancellations. In addition to the restrictions on when payment was received, the salary was only about $20 an hour without contractual review for three years.
Ryanair paid for only four days of work a week, though on the fifth day, Growcoot was expected to be on call to arrive within an hour of being notified, and these standby days were unpaid unless she was actually called in.
Growcoot recounted an incident when she was on standby and received a call to come in at 4 a.m. to work on a flight departing from Liverpool to Dublin. She paid about $15 for a taxi to the airport because public transportation wasn’t running at that hour. When she arrived, she was informed that the flight had been cancelled because too few passengers were booked on it, information that would have been available to the airline prior to calling Growcoot in. She claims she was then sent home without payment or so much as an apology.’
This is not necessarily the worst case (but it’s pretty bad); it’s just that this found its way into the House of Commons. I leave you to imagine how our health services could be reconfigured into the Ryanair way.
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