Nurses and midwives vote by 62% to accept new pay deal

The agreement, to cost €50m this year and next, is conditional on productivity and cost-saving

The new deal was brokered at the Labour Court following three days of strikes by members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO). Photograph:  Alan Betson/The Irish Times

The new deal was brokered at the Labour Court following three days of strikes by members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO). Photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

Nurses and midwives have backed proposals to end their long-running campaign over pay and recruitment/retention issues by 62 per cent in a ballot .

The deal would see potentially 25,000 nurses move onto a higher-paid enhanced scale. Over 4,000 nurses would also become eligible for additional allowances.

The agreement also provided for the establishment of an independent expert group to look at pay for nurses in managerial grades.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform calculated the the proposals would cost cost up to €50 million for 2019 and 2020 . However this was conditional on productivity and cost-saving measures being introduced.

Asked on Thursday whether it had an updated assessment of the cost of the new nurses’ agreement, the Department of Public Expenditure said that it did not have any comment.

Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) general secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said: “INMO nurses and midwives fought hard for patient safety and staffing in a determined, controlled and collective manner. We are extremely proud of the safe, patient-focused strike organised by our strike committees.”

“The Government have committed to full implementation of these proposals. We now seek an immediate meeting with them to ensure this happens without delay.”

The Minister for Health Simon Harris welcomed the INMO ballot result.

“The Labour Court recommendations which the INMO members have now accepted, envisage a range of tangible and specific enhanced nurse practice measures that should form the basis for a fundamental change in the role of the Staff Nurse grade. The new enhanced nurse practice contract which has also been accepted through this ballot result, should be the beginning of a transformation process of the profession.”

The new deal was brokered at the Labour Court following three days of strikes by members of the INMO in January and February this year.

The INMO leadership had recommended that its 40,000 members accept the proposals, saying they included a commitment to safe staffing levels, based on patient dependency; a new, higher salary scale for staff nurses and midwives; increased and expanded allowances; extra promotional opportunities; and supports for professional development and education.

Earlier proposals put forward by health service management in a draft new nursing contract which could have required staff to move up to 40km between locations during a single shift was not included in final proposals drawn up by the Labour Court.

The Labour Court recommendation said nurses’ rosters may be subject to change and “may provide for a variety of shifts”.

An earlier highly controversial proposal in the draft contract drawn up by management suggested that employers could seek nurses to work four, six, eight, 10 and 12 hours shifts. This was not contained in the Labour Court’s recommendation.

It is proposed that staff nurses would be able to move onto a higher-paid enhanced grade after one year and 16 weeks which would pay an initial salary of €35,800.