Nurses to seek significant pay rises in next public service deal

Industrial action by nurses deferred to allow for ballot on revised Government proposals

The Government’s new proposals include the reintroduction of a number of allowances and the establishment of a pilot pre-retirement job-sharing scheme for nurses aged over 55

The Government’s new proposals include the reintroduction of a number of allowances and the establishment of a pilot pre-retirement job-sharing scheme for nurses aged over 55

 

Nurses are expected to seek significant pay rises as part of talks in the coming months on a new public service pay deal to succeed the Lansdowne Road agreement.

The executive council of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) on Saturday decided to defer industrial action which was scheduled to commence Tuesday in a dispute over staff recruitment and retention.

The INMO is to urge its members to accept revised proposals drawn up by health service management which met some of the union’s demands such as the restoration of allowances for staff recruited since 2011 and a new pre-retirement scheme.

However, the Government ruled out any increases in pay in advance of the report of the Public Service Pay Commission and the planned talks on a successor to the Lansdowne Road agreement.

Minister for Health Simon Harris welcomed the deferral of the INMO industrial action.

INMO general secretary Liam Doran said the Government had to understand that talking nicely about dealing with recruitment and retention problems and the need to address pay had to translate into definite action in improving pay and conditions for nurses and midwives.

He said “that has to start and be part of the successor to the Lansdowne Road agreement when negotiations take place”.

Strategic reasons

Mr Doran said the union was urging members to accept the new proposals “for strategic reasons”. He said the proposals represented an improvement in terms of staffing numbers, recruitment practices and retention mechanisms.

He added that the union’s decision ensured that its members would receive increases due under the Lansdowne Road deal and continue to enjoy its protections as well as ensuring it would be part of the talks on the successor deal in May.

“We are saying to our members that there was good work done in this agreement, and there is much more to be done. But we should do that through the procedures, and we should make sure that any new agreement is capable once and for all of resolving and addressing the medium and long-term pay issue for nurses and midwives so that we are as competitive as every other jurisdiction...”

The Government’s new proposals included the reintroduction of a number of allowances and the establishment of a pilot pre-retirement job-sharing scheme for nurses aged over 55.

There is also to be a review of education and development supports for nurses and midwives, while some additional promotional posts will also be provided.

Professional development

Health service management rejected a proposal from nurses that they be given one hour per week of work time for continuous professional development. The proposal document said that such a demand “has very significant cost implications and wider policy implications, and cannot, therefore, be conceded”.

The introduction of payment for missed meal breaks was also ruled out as the demand had “very significant cost and wider policy implications”.

“The management position is that meal breaks must be provided. In order to address management systems issues where they arise, a data-gathering process is currently under way and will be completed by end April. Management will put measures in place to ensure issues identified in this exercise are addressed with a view to such measures being decided by the end of May.”

Health service management had previously estimated that paying nurses for missed meal breaks would cost €83 million, while granting one hour a week for continuous professional development would cost €48 million a year.

The Government had previously offered to recruit an additional 1,200 nurses this year under a funded workforce plan and to grant greater autonomy to nursing managers to take on staff.