SIPTU has warned of possible strike action by around 7,000 health service support staff this summer in a dispute over pay and regrading.

The row centres on the refusal of the HSE and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform to implement pay rises totalling €21 million due for SIPTU grades, including health care assistants, chefs and other support staff following a Job Evaluation Scheme sanctioned under the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

Leaving a meeting with the employer side this afternoon, SIPTU Health Division Organiser Paul Bell said that he believes members will follow a union recommendation and vote for strike action - which would regrettably lead to a series of strikes, probably coming into the middle of June.

The Job Evaluation Scheme found that the staff in question were entitled to upgrading - but management has refused to sanction payment, which the union says has been due since October 2018.

Over 1,000 chefs who went through a similar process are also involved in the dispute and may end up on strike.

SIPTU says the chefs' payment has been due since 2017.

The increases due for affected staff range from €1,600 to €3,200 per annum.

Speaking after today's meeting, Paul Bell described the meeting as extremely frustrating and disappointing.

He said the employers had accepted that the findings of the Job Evaluation Scheme were accurate and that the 7,000 support staff should now be receiving upgradings.

However, Mr Bell said SIPTU was given no understanding of when payment would be made, and that there appeared to be a degree of conflict with the employer as to when funding would be provided.

He confirmed that no further engagement on the issues is planned.

He said his members had complied since 2015 with the process covered by the Public Service Stability Agreement, and accused the employer side of breaching the national agreement.

He stated that SIPTU now has deep concerns about the ability to have confidence in Job Evaluation Schemes.

Asked why the pay awards were not being implemented, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said it had no comment at this time.

Comment has also been sought from the HSE.