Nurses urged to defer industrial action to allow for new talks

Oversight body to public service deal urges binding arbitration to end dispute if needed

More than 30,000 members of the INMO are scheduled to begin industrial action next Tuesday. The move could see hospitals forced to close beds and cancel procedures for patients

More than 30,000 members of the INMO are scheduled to begin industrial action next Tuesday. The move could see hospitals forced to close beds and cancel procedures for patients

 

Nurses should defer industrial action scheduled to begin next week to allow for new talks, the organisation charged with overseeing the Lansdowne Road public service agreement has urged.

The Lansdowne Road agreement oversight body said the issues at the heart of the dispute over recruitment and retention of nurses in the health service should be addressed ultimately by binding arbitration in the Labour Court if necessary.

More than 30,000 members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) are scheduled to begin industrial action next Tuesday. The move could see hospitals forced to close beds and cancel procedures for patients.

If there is no resolution nurses are set to stage a series of strikes from later in March.

The oversight group – which comprises union leaders and representatives of the Department of Public Expenditure and is chaired by an official of the Workplace Relations Commission – urged the INMO and health service management to utilise dispute resolution procedures set out in the agreement.

In a private statement issued to the INMO and health service management it warned that if the processes set out in the accord to resolve disputes were not followed the party concerned would be in breach of the agreement.

It is understood the leadership of the INMO will consider the statement on Wednesday.

Strikes

It also pointed out the agreement between the Government and the public service committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions – under which a pay rise of €1,000 for 250,000 State employees was brought forward by several months to April – also stipulated there would be industrial peace.

The oversight body called on nurses to defer their planned industrial action. It said they and health service management should engage at the Workplace Relations Commission and, if necessary, the matters should be referred to the Labour Court for binding arbitration.

Meal breaks

Health service management told the oversight body the proposed measures would be extremely costly to implement.

The Irish Times reported earlier this month the Government estimated the measures could cost €180 million.

The INMO on Tuesday met the HSE on contingency arrangements to apply in the event of the industrial action going ahead. It is understood the union said some local health service managers had not yet engaged on planning for the dispute.