Psychiatric nurses move to ballot for industrial action if Government imposes pay cuts

Anger expressed at union meeting in Galway

Galway Roscommon delegates Margaret Rudkins, Cathy McBrearty, Breege Potter and Belinda Dooley at the Psychiatric Nurses Association annual conference  in Galway. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Galway Roscommon delegates Margaret Rudkins, Cathy McBrearty, Breege Potter and Belinda Dooley at the Psychiatric Nurses Association annual conference in Galway. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Fri, Apr 19, 2013, 06:00

Psychiatric nurses have warned their union will ballot for industrial action if the Government attempts to legislate for public service pay cuts.

The Psychiatric Nurses’ Association, the first union to meet since this week’s rejection of the Croke Part II deal, has also demanded “greater inclusivity” of all parties in any negotiation of a successor to Croke Park I.

The decision to ballot for industrial action if necessary was agreed at a special closed session of its annual delegate conference in Galway yesterday.

General secretary Des Kavanagh called on other public service unions to “match the threatening rhetoric of Government Ministers” to legislate for cuts, and said union representatives who had tried to broker the Croke Park II deal should “consider their position”.

“Tweaking the current proposals is not on . . . we need a new and more inclusive approach which represents all 24/7 public service workers, he said. Balloting for action would result in an “industrial relations deterrent” to “leave Government in no doubt of our preparedness to act forcefully to defend our members”, he added.


‘Mood of anger’
“The mood of anger is very clear among delegates and they expressed their commitment to taking whatever action is necessary to oppose the unfair and inequitable cuts in the Croke Park II proposals,” Mr Kavanagh said. “That mood can be summed up as ‘We don’t want a strike, we can’t afford a strike but we are now at the point where we cannot afford not to go on strike if these cuts are implemented by legislation’,” he warned.

“The consistent opposition of the association to the Croke Park II proposals and the leadership shown by the association in the campaign for a No vote as part of the 24/7 alliance was endorsed by our delegates today,” he said. “However, the delegates are aware that the threat to their earnings has not gone away,” he added.

The association’s actuarial analysis of the cuts indicated they would be more than 11 per cent, while “other better paid staff faced much lower cuts”, he said. This “unfair and inequitable” treatment of frontline staff, such as nurses, firefighters, gardaí, ambulance paramedics, prison officers, childcare workers and care assistants, “must be dropped immediately”, he said.