Up to 3,000 nurses protest at cut to student pay

Thu, Feb 17, 2011, 00:00

NURSING UNIONS have urged their members to punish politicians in the general election who do not pledge to reverse pay cuts for student nurses.

Up to 3,000 student nurses and midwives yesterday took part in a march and rally in Dublin in protest at Government plans to phase out and ultimately eliminate the payments that they receive during their mandatory 36-week placement periods in hospitals.

Nursing unions will today meet the Fianna Fáil spokesman on health Barry Andrews on his party’s view of the planned cuts.

Last week, Minister for Health Mary Coughlan said there would be a review of the decision to abolish the payments from 2015.

However, the general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, Liam Doran, said that the planned review was “inadequate”. Mr Doran added that the Minister’s statement still suggested that some level of cut would take place.

Yesterday, the HSE’s national director for human resources, Seán McGrath, said he personally believed that the planned nursing cuts were unfair.

However, he said the HSE would implement Government policy.

Speaking at the rally outside the Department of Health in Hawkins Street in Dublin, Siptu nursing official Louise O’Reilly said: “We will hold our politicians to account and shame those cowards who will not pledge to reverse those cuts.

“We say no to slave labour and we will punish those on February 25th who try to introduce it,” Ms O’Reilly added.

The general secretary of the Psychiatric Nurses’ Association, Des Kavanagh, said Ms Coughlan’s announcement that there would be a review of the Government’s decision to abolish the payments to student nurses was “too little, too late”.

Mr Kavanagh said the Government should reverse the cuts “to reclaim some semblance of decency and credibility before they leave office”.

Mr Kavanagh added that Opposition parties should be clear and unambiguous in their support of student nurses.

“Woolly soundbites are not acceptable,” he said.