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tensions HSE managers say they were 'fobbed off' over 5pc pay rise while chiefs got big salary hikes

At least 120 HSE managers and retirees are believed to be affected by the non-payment of an award approved by government more than a decade ago

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Hospital managers have claimed they were "fobbed off" over a 5pc pay rise while senior health chiefs got big salary hikes.

At least 120 HSE managers and retirees are believed to be affected by the non-payment of an award approved by government more than a decade ago.

A recent €81,000 increase sanctioned for the role of secretary-general at the Department of Health, filled by senior civil servant Robert Watt, has heightened tensions among the senior officials.

Although Mr Watt initially waived the increase, it recently emerged he is now receiving a full salary of €297,869.

HSE director-general Paul Reid negotiated a basic salary of €350,000 on his appointment in 2019.

The HSE managers say their pay award was originally recommended by a Review Body on Higher Remuneration in 2007.

John O'Brien, a former hospital network manager in the mid-west, said the "continued withholding" of the increase is an injustice they are prepared to highlight until it is resolved.

He said senior HSE officials denied the award are mainly in the third tier of management, including hospital and community care managers.

Mr O'Brien said the managers are at the front line of leadership, particularly during the pandemic.

"It is through those managers that the requirements of government, decisions of the HSE board, and the actions of the chief executive are given effect," he said.

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"It is worth noting that all other beneficiaries across the civil and public service including the Department of Health have all been paid the award."

A letter from Mr Watt to former HSE senior manager Tom Hourigan in April last year, seen by the Sunday World, said their request "may be addressed" under a sectoral bargaining mechanism in the current public-sector pay agreement.

He noted they "vigorously pursued" payment with a broad scope of stakeholders, but indicated they could not request a review until Fempi legislation - Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest - expires.

Mr O'Brien said this legislation "did not seem to be a precluding factor" when an increase was sanctioned for Mr Watt's role. "There seems to be one rule for some, and another for us," he said.

A Department of Health spokesperson said outstanding pay claims are subject to sectoral bargaining.

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