Nurses to engage in talks aimed at averting industrial action

Dispute involving 35,000 INMO members would reduce services in hospitals for patients

More than 30,000 members of the INMO are scheduled to begin industrial action next Tuesday, which could see hospitals forced to close beds and cancel procedures for patients.

More than 30,000 members of the INMO are scheduled to begin industrial action next Tuesday, which could see hospitals forced to close beds and cancel procedures for patients.

 

Nurses are to take part in new talks aimed at averting planned industrial action which is scheduled to commence next Tuesday.

However in the meantime a planned nationwide work- to- rule which would reduce services available in hospitals is still set to go ahead.

The executive council of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) is to meet again on Saturday to consider the outcome of the new talks process.

More than 35,000 members of the INMO are scheduled to begin industrial action next Tuesday, which could see hospitals forced to close beds and cancel procedures for patients.

If there is no resolution nurses are set to stage a series of strikes from later in March.

However on Tuesday the group charged with overseeing the Lansdowne Road public service agreement urged nurses to defer their planned action to allow for further talks.

The Lansdowne Road agreement oversight body said the issues at the heart of the dispute over recruitment and retention of nurses in the health service should be addressed ultimately by binding arbitration in the Labour Court if necessary.

The INMO executive council considered the statement from the oversight group for several hours at a meeting on Wednesday

In the private statement issued to the INMO and health service management on Tuesday the oversight group warned that if the processes set out in the Lansdowne Road accord to resolve disputes were not followed the party concerned would be in breach of the agreement.

This could place in jeopardy the prospect of nurses receiving a planned €1,000 pay increase which has been brought forward by the Government to April.

The oversight group – which comprises union leaders and representatives of the Department of Public Expenditure and is chaired by an official of the Workplace Relations Commission – urged the INMO and health service management to utilise dispute resolution procedures set out in the agreement.

Government sources indicated that if a party was considered to be in breach of the Lansdowne Road agreement, members of the organisation concerned could not avail of the benefits or protections set out in the accord.

Sources said the planned acceleration of the €1,000 pay rise for staff across the public service was conditional on their union being a party to the Lansdowne Road accord.

The INMO said after the meeting of its executive council that in deference to the oversight body, it would engage, on the issues in dispute, at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).

“The organisation has confirmed this, to the WRC, and indicated its availability to commence these discussions immediately.”

“The INMO executive council also agreed, at its meeting today, that the outcome of this process will be considered at a further meeting which will take place next Saturday afternoon, March 4th 2017.”

Minister for Health Simon Harris on Wednesday called on the INMO and health service management to immediately enter further dialogue at the Workplace Relations Commission or have the matters referred for binding arbitration.

The oversight group said it had been informed by the INMO that issues which required to be addressed to head off the planned industrial action included universal provision of time for nurses to engage in continuous professional development; payment for meal breaks; restoration of twilight payments of time and one-sixth across the sector; reinstatement of a pre-retirement initiative; and the reintroduction of some specialist allowances.

Health service management told the oversight body the proposed measures would be extremely costly to implement.

The Irish Times reported earlier this month the Government estimated the measures could cost €180 million.