Nurses offered deal on premium pay rates

Working week would increase from 37.5 to 39 hours, with less pay for new nurses

Siptu vice-president Patricia King has said today’s talks at the Labour Relations Commission have been “very exploratory”. Photograph: Eric Luke

Siptu vice-president Patricia King has said today’s talks at the Labour Relations Commission have been “very exploratory”. Photograph: Eric Luke


Health service management have offered nurses a deal which would restore double-time premium rates for Sundays and public holidays in return for a longer working week. Under the deal the working week would increase from 37.5 to 39 hours.

New nurse graduates would be offered 85 per cent of the staff nurse pay rate in their first year and 90 per cent in the second year, under the proposal emerging from talks at the Labour Relations Commission. However, this would be on the basis of a 39-hour week.

Doctors would also be offered an overtime rate of double pay on a Sunday in return for major work practice changes.

Liam Doran, head of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said “it has now been agreed that a new phase of [talks] is necessary in terms of some work in the field”. That work is to focus on hospital compliance with working-time regulations, task reallocation and overtime minimisation.

“That will continue for the next two weeks, two-and- a-half weeks. Then we will be back here at the LRC for a further, what can be expected, week of intensive discussion,” he said.

“It is very much a work in progress. There has been constructive engagement the last couple of days, a lot more to do, and both sides are committed to doing it.”

In play
He said many items remained in play including the 39-hour week in return for retaining premium payments. “Other [elements] are still going to be problematic but nothing is signed off until everything is signed off. There is a lot to play for.”

Siptu, the Civil Public and Services Union and the organisations representing the public health sector adjourned talks late yesterday.

While the commission expressed an early degree of confidence in proceedings – with several unions reaching at least a qualified agreement – Siptu, the country’s largest representative body, had sounded a cautionary note as it adjourned the process until today.

Local authorities
Vice-president Patricia King said the talks had been “very exploratory” but that whatever progress might be made would not become clear until after a meeting with local authority employer representatives today. “It’s far too early to say if there is any issue about making progress there today,” she said outside the talks. “Really both sides were just exchanging their positions to make sure that we all understood one another but we haven’t moved anywhere near making any progress as of yet.

“It’s down now to whether the employer has the will or not to substantively reform this proposal.”

Speaking in Brussels yesterday, following the Irish presidency’s first formal meeting with the European Parliament on the EU’s budget, Tánaiste Eamon Gilmore denied the Government had rowed back on its promise to cut pay across the board in the absence of an agreement. “We’ve been very clear on it all along that we’ll see a settlement of these issues but we’ve also been clear that we have to achieve the savings.”

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