Nurses criticise ‘unreasonable’ contract offer tabled by Government

INMO says proposal, which led to suspension of recent strikes, would make jobs ‘insecure’

INMO say  there was ‘a very large gap between the INMO and the employers on the new contract’. Photograph: Frank Miller

INMO say there was ‘a very large gap between the INMO and the employers on the new contract’. Photograph: Frank Miller

 

Plans for the introduction of a new contract for nurses have been referred to the Labour Court after unions described proposals tabled by the Government as “unreasonable”.

The new contract and a higher pay scale were the key elements of settlement proposals drawn up several weeks ago which led to the suspension of a series of strikes by nurses.

However, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO )and Siptu have both rejected the offer following talks at the Workplace Relations Commission over the weekend.

Following a meeting of its executive on Monday, the INMO said the issue of the new contract had been referred to the Labour Court.

In the meantime, the union postponed plans to start a ballot on the overall settlement proposals - which had been due to commence on Monday - for two weeks. The INMO executive will meet again to consider the issues on March 20th.

INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said the “unreasonable “ contract proposals tabled by the Government would put nurses and midwives “in some of the most insecure jobs in Ireland”.

Unilateral

She said the Government proposals would allow employers to make unilateral changes to work locations and hours. “We will not allow this,” she said.

The Irish Times reported at the beginning of March that under the proposed draft contract the HSE would have the right to move nurses - potentially within a 40km radius - for weeks at a time or within a single shift.

The proposed draft contract would allow for redeployment from hospital to community settings and could also see nurses rostered to work shifts lasting four, six, eight, 10 or 12 hours.

Siptu health division organiser Paul Bell said any management proposals aimed at diminishing the terms and conditions of nurses and midwives would be be firmly resisted by the union’s national nursing and midwifery sector committee.

The unions nursing sector organiser, Kevin Figgis said: “It is our assessment that the totality of the proposals either provide little or no benefit for some nursing and midwifery grades and destabilise the entire concept of a workplace location and a structured rostered day.

“As there are no further talks scheduled, the Siptu nursing and midwifery sector will meet this week for the purpose of agreeing on a communication strategy and a secret ballot to allow members to have the final say on these proposals.”

In identical statements issued on Monday the Department of Health and the HSE said: “Health service management remains available for further discussion with nursing unions. Management is committed to upholding the recommendation issued by the Labour Court and accepted by the Government, and to meeting the reforms laid out in Sláintecare.”