INMO to consider industrial action as Harris urges talks

Some 30,000 nurses due to begin action that could see hospitals close beds from Tuesday

Minister for Health Simon Harris has called on the INMO and health service management to immediately enter further dialogue at the Workplace Relations Commission

Minister for Health Simon Harris has called on the INMO and health service management to immediately enter further dialogue at the Workplace Relations Commission

 

The leadership of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) is to meet on Wednesday to consider whether to press ahead with planned industrial action.

More than 30,000 members of the INMO are scheduled to begin industrial action next Tuesday, which 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 move comes after the group charged with overseeing the Lansdowne Road public service agreement urged nurses to defer their planned action to allow for further talks.

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.

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

This could place in jeopardy the prospect of nurses receiving a planned €1,000 pay increase which has been brought forward by the Government to April.

Government sources indicated that if a party was considered to be in breach of the Lansdowne Road agreement, members of the organisation concerned could not avail of the benefits or protections set out in the accord.

Sources said the planned acceleration of the €1,000 pay rise for staff across the public service was conditional on their union being a party to the Lansdowne Road accord.

Separately, the Minister for Health Simon Harris on Wednesday called on the INMO and health service management to immediately enter further dialogue at the Workplace Relations Commission or have the matters referred for binding arbitration.

He said he endorsed the view of the oversight body view that the parties should utilise the dispute resolution procedures of the Lansdowne Road agreement to avoid the proposed industrial action by nurses next week going ahead.

The oversight group said it had been informed by the INMO that issues which required to be addressed to head off the planned industrial action included universal provision of time for nurses to engage in continuous professional development; payment for meal breaks; restoration of twilight payments of time and one-sixth across the sector; reinstatement of a pre-retirement initiative; and the reintroduction of some specialist allowances.

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.