Nurse graduates in pay protest
Hundreds of new graduates attended a rally today in protest against the introduction of a nurse/midwife graduate scheme paying 80 per cent of the approved rate.
The gathering, organised by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) at Croke Park, saw speakers call for a rejection of the initiative as new graduates would receive just 80 per cent of the previously agreed rate while up to 1,000 experienced nurses/midwives would be let go to make way for their underpaid colleagues.
Other speakers said the proposed salary for the new graduate programme, at €22,000, was significantly less than a new graduate could earn in the UK, where salaries would start in London at €30,000, with continuing educational opportunities.
Some of those present said they were already planning to move to the UK, or elsewhere, as they could not afford to live in urban areas on the proposed salary.
Other contributors pointed out that the starting salary for newly qualified nurses/midwives has already suffered a 24 per cent pay cut.
There were contributions from more experienced nurses, now working through an agency or on short-term contracts, with these members saying they had no other employment avenue because of the public sector recruitment embargo.
A number of these speakers said they were on panels, awaiting a permanent post, for up to two years, and now they were being faced with being “sacked” while they are replaced with new, underpaid, graduates on 80 per cent of the “proper” pay rate.
The meeting called for a nationwide lobbying campaign of all TDs with regard to the lower pay proposal, and the need for the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive to engage with unions on mutually agreeing a graduate programme, and also for a boycott of the initiative when it is advertised on January 11th next for general nursing, and in February for all other disciplines of nursing and midwifery.
The meeting also called on the Department of Health and HSE to agree other initiatives which would reduce payroll costs while respecting agreed salary scales.
Speaking after the rally PNA deputy general secretary Seamus Murphy said: “Today’s attendance, and debate, confirms that the call for the boycott is being driven by members, on the ground, who quite clearly see this as being an opportunistic action, by the HSE, aimed at undermining nursing and midwifery and introducing cheap labour”.
INMO general secretary Liam Doran said: “This graduate programme is fundamentally flawed as it will result in up to 1,000 experienced nurses/midwives being let go to be replaced by new graduates who will have the full responsibilities of all other qualified nurses/midwives, but paid 80 per cent of the agreed rate.
“Today’s rally unanimously endorsed the call for a nationwide boycott and in the coming days both unions will reaffirm that message to every new graduate member all over the country.”