Healthcare workers deserve a bonus due to the “extraordinary demands” of the pandemic, the Fórsa union says.
However, they insist they were “willing to negotiate” - saying their Labour Court claim did not demand a specified amount of bonus leave or payments.
It comes after the HSE told the Labour Court 10 days bonus leave for healthcare workers would cost more than €350 million.
The HSE has suggested it could be possible the “the single most costly claim ever served on a single employer”.
There are also concerns other public sector workers would want the same reward.
Senior ministers support the idea of a bonus for frontline healthcare workers, while Tanaiste Leo Varadkar says it shouldn't be limited to healthcare workers.
Unions, meanwhile, say they want some form of “tangible recognition” for healthcare workers’ efforts - whether that’s additional pay, annual leave or a bonus.
For now, the Labour Court has called on health worker unions and officials to begin “effective engagement” to achieve clarity “at the earliest possible opportunity”.
Eamonn Donnelly from the Fórsa trade union says healthcare workers deserve a bonus - although he rejected suggestions they're demanding as much as the HSE is claiming.
He told Newstalk Breakfast: “Forsá’s position is we never, ever separate healthcare workers from any other public workers - but remember this is a global health pandemic, which places extraneous and extraordinary demands on the health service workforce.
“What we have simply sought is some form of recognition for what healthcare workers have done.”
Asked whether the INMO had asked for ten days bonus leave, Mr Donnelly said he wouldn’t comment on a specific union’s claim.
However, he observed: “I was listening to this €377m figure… the claim that went before the Labour Court did not specify ten days or any amount of days or any amount of bonus payments. The claim that went before the Labour Court… was unspecified.”
“We were willing to negotiate. Had the HSE been allowed to behave as an employer, I think flexible arrangements could have been put in place locally, and this would have never got to the point where it has reached.”
The Government has previously confirmed it's working on a bonus for healthcare workers.
However, the INMO has previously suggested the failure to provide that bonus is "killing morale" in the workforce.