The Workplace Relations Commission has summoned health service management and SIPTU to exploratory talks tomorrow in an attempt to stop next Thursday's 24-hour strike by 10,000 health support staff.

The dispute centres on the Government's refusal to implement the findings of a job evaluation scheme, which found that the staff in question were entitled to pay rises of up to €3,000 per year.

Representatives of the HSE, the Department of Health and the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform are expected to attend tomorrow's talks.

SIPTU has accepted the invitation, but has warned that if the dispute is not resolved, five further days of strike action will take place.

There are 38 hospitals and health care facilities facing serious industrial disruption due to the planned action.

In a letter notifying the Health Service Executive of the strike action, SIPTU warned that if the HSE and related agencies refuse to enter meaningful negotiations, further 24-hour stoppages will take place on 25 and 26 June and on 2, 3 and 4 July.

The dispute centres on a job evaluation scheme for the grades in question, which the Government agreed to carry out during negotiations on the last Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA). 

The job evaluations examine whether the roles have changed and whether pay rises are warranted.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform said the matter of the job evaluation scheme dispute has been referred to the PSSA Oversight Group in line with the terms of the PSSA, which SIPTU has signed up to.

The union said the job evaluation scheme confirmed that pay rises worth up to €3,000 per year were justified, and accused the Government of reneging on implementing those increases.

Affected grades include health care assistants, maternity care assistants, laboratory aides, chefs, and surgical instrument technicians, as well as workers in portering, household and catering services.