Nurses' union may exit Croke Park extension talks
The country’s largest nursing union has said it will withdraw from talks on an extension to the Croke Park agreement unless the Government moves away from its “high-handed, dictatorial approach” aimed at cutting staff income.
However the Irish Nurses’ and Midwives’ Organisation (INMO) is to remain in the process for the time being.
The union said yesterday if management did not become “more real and realistic” at the next meeting, its executive would meet again to decide on its continued participation.
Its general secretary, Liam Doran, said that in such an event the decision would be self-evident. The Government has signalled it wants to cut pay for high earners, reduce premium payments and introduce longer working hours under an extended Croke Park agreement.
Income cuts unacceptable
The INMO said any move that resulted in a cut to monthly take-home income would be unacceptable. Mr Doran also said he had no mandate to negotiate on additional hours.
The union said the current management approach was provocative and unrealistic. It said it was primarily targeted at the income of front line public servants who provide services on a round-the-clock basis.
Mr Doran said: “There can be no agreement, acceptable to the INMO, which seeks to impose cuts, or reductions, in existing pay rates, premium pay rates and allowances which form the total income of members arising from their obligation to work 24/7, 365 days a year.
“Our executive council has also directed that talks with other unions who have members working in the front line should now focus on drawing up whatever action plan is required to realise the shared objective of protecting the income of members in the frontline, right across the public service.”
An alliance of unions representing staff who provide services on a round-the-clock basis, which includes general nurses and midwives, psychiatric nurses, gardaí and prison officers, is to meet today to consider a strategy to be activated if the Government continued to seek cuts in basic pay, premium payments or allowances.
Two organisations representing gardaí have withdrawn from the talks process.
The Garda Representative Association said yesterday that pay cuts and changes in the terms and conditions of its members would be met with some form of industrial action.
The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform described the departure of the Garda bodies as “disappointing” but said the current process would continue.
“All sides understood, when the invitation to discussions was issued and accepted by the parties concerned, that a major challenge faces both sides to shape an acceptable outcome for public servants across the broad range of employments in each sector.”
The Psychiatric Nurses’ Association also said it could not accept any cuts to allowances or premium payments. Meanwhile, Siptu told members it was by no means clear that any agreement could be reached in the current talks with the Government.