Nurses call on union to lodge pay claim

INMO to join with other unions in seeking pay restoration after Haddington Road

Student nurses and midwives protesting to highlight the pay and working conditions of student/intern nurses and midwives. Delegates at the Irish Nursing and Midwives Organisation (INMO) annual conference voted today to lodge an immediate pay claim on behalf of all grades in the profession.  Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Student nurses and midwives protesting to highlight the pay and working conditions of student/intern nurses and midwives. Delegates at the Irish Nursing and Midwives Organisation (INMO) annual conference voted today to lodge an immediate pay claim on behalf of all grades in the profession. Photograph: Eric Luke / The Irish Times

Thu, May 8, 2014, 11:21

Delegates at the Irish Nursing and Midwives Organisation (INMO) annual conference have voted to lodge an immediate pay claim on behalf of all grades in the profession.

The motion calling for the reinstatement of pre-Haddington Road Agreement pay levels was seconded by Fine Gael local election candidate and former INMO president Madeline Speirs.

Union leadership also backed the motion, which says that a claim should be lodged “in light our growing economic recovery, increased productivity, expanded roles and function in all grades of nurse/midwife, and the improved ability of the Government to pay”.

INMO deputy general secretary Dave Hughes said the union suffered a “demoralising and depressing” experience after it was left on its own last year in opposing Haddington Road. Supporting the motion, he said it would enable the union to join with other unions to campaign for the restoration of lost pay.

Ms Speirs voiced her anger at the “completely uncontrolled” salaries paid by Section 38 and 39 organisations funded by the HSE to their top executives. The €22,000 car allowance paid to the chief executive of one voluntary hospital was nearly as big as the yearly salary payable to a graduate nurse, she pointed out.

Mary Leahy, executive council, said nurses had lost 17 per cent of salary over three pay cuts. Over 5,000 posts had been removed and the workload of the remaining nurses had greatly increased.

“We have worked with this pressure over six years with the constant reminded that when something goes wrong it will be you licence that goes,” she told the conference in Kilkenny this morning.

Martin Harkin-Kelly, of Sligo branch, said the profession had been “eaten to the bone”. She had never seen so many “40-somethings” wanting to get out of nursing because of conditions.

The conference also voted to direct the union to pursue the lifting of the public sector moratorium. Jenny Maloney, Kilkenny branch, said nurses were exhausted, overworked and stressed and this was leading to absenteeism and understaffing, with the potential for error and poor performance.

Nurses were increasingly at risk of assault from frustrated relatives of patients, she said.