Government will not confirm status of nurses’ pay increase

Officials refuse to say whether nurses will get early salary rise if work-to-rule goes ahead

Liam Doran of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Liam Doran of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The Government has declined to say whether nurses will receive a planned accelerated €1,000 pay increase due in April if threatened industrial action next month goes ahead.

The Government signalled last month that the early payment of the increase – which was agreed to assuage anger among other unions in the aftermath of the €50 million pay deal for gardaí last November – was conditional on continuing industrial peace across the public service.

Government Ministers last night said they expected all public service unions that have signed up to the Lansdowne Road pay agreement to continue to adhere to the accord.

In a statement issued on Thursday in the wake of planned industrial action by members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), Minister for Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe and the Minister for Health Simon Harris said the Government remained committed to a collective approach to industrial peace and the setting of public pay.

The Department of Public Expenditure on Thursday refused to comment on whether nurses would receive the planned accelerated €1,000 pay rise, which is due to be brought forward to April, if the planned industrial action goes ahead.

In a statement on January 17th announcing that the payment of the €1,000 rise for 250,000 public service staff was being advanced from September to April, the Government said the Cabinet had agreed to the move “on the understanding that there will be continued adherence to the terms of the Lansdowne Road agreement, and in particular, its mechanisms to resolve disagreements before they escalate into industrial disputes.

“The requirement therefore to adhere to industrial peace will be fully observed in all sectors.”

The oversight group for the Lansdowne Road agreement, which is composed of trade union and public service management representatives, met with the INMO on Thursday.

Joint statements

The INMO made no comment on the meeting with the group.

In their joint statement, the two Ministers said: “The Government, working with Irish Congress of Trade Unions, remains firmly committed to the two-phased approach to public pay policy, which was set out in January, and to the continued implementation of the Lansdowne Road agreement.

“Matters in respect of pay are a matter for the Public Service Pay Commission, the report from which is expected in Quarter II this year.”

“The Lansdowne Road oversight group met today and will continue to engage on the issues in the coming days.”

General secretary of the INMO Liam Doran said on Thursday that as of now the industrial action was scheduled to commence from early March.

Money grab

He strongly denied that planned industrial action next month – which will disrupt hospital services – is all about a “money grab” by its members.

Nurses are to commence industrial action on March 7th with a continuous work-to-rule and to escalate their campaign a week later with a series of rolling work stoppages in a dispute over recruitment and retention.

Mr Doran said it had been clearly articulated by his union for a long time that stafing initiatives were needed and that there were morethan 3,000 fewer staff employed than 10 years.

He said nurses had not lodged any new pay claim. The INMO was seeking the restoration of allowances, abolished in 2011, for recently-recruited staff.

However, he said this was happening across the public service.

He also said the union had sought recognition of unpaid meal breaks and the for time off from the roster for nurses to continue their professional development.