Nurses to stage 24-hour strike at the end of January
Further five dates for strike action in February planned if dispute over pay not resolved
Nurses are planning to stage six strikes over pay in the weeks ahead.
Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) are to hold a 24-hour work stoppage on January 30th.
The union said on Tuesday that five other 24-hour strikes would take place in February if the dispute was not resolved.
It has scheduled strikes for February 5th, 7th, 12th, 13th and 14th.
The INMO said on strike days members would withdraw labour but life-saving and emergency care would be provided.
The decision to strike follows an overwhelming vote in favour of strike action by union members before Christmas in support of their pay claim.
The union said the HSE could not recruit and retain sufficient staff on current wage rates.
INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said going on strike was the last thing nurses and midwives wanted to do.
However, she said the crisis in recruiting and retention made it impossible for nurses and midwives to do their jobs properly.
“We are not able to give patients the care they deserve under these conditions.”
She said the planned strikes could be averted but the ball was in the Government’s court.
“All it takes is for the Government to acknowledge our concerns, engage with us directly and work to resolve this issue in a pro-active manner.”
The INMO is seeking across-the-board rises of about 12 per cent to bring pay for nurses into line with grades such as physiotherapists as a means of tackling recruitment and retention problems.
The Minister for Health, Simon Harris said the planned strike action by nurses was unwarranted and could be avoided.
He said the Department of Health and the HSE would invite the INMO to talks next week. There was “a clear need for engagement” and it was essential that the time available was used by all sides to find a resolution to this dispute, Mr Harris said.
Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has already said the Government would not reopen the pay agreement it has with all public servants to give a special deal to the nurses.
Mr Varadkar has also warned that a strike will result in the cancellation of patient appointments and surgeries, even though doctors are not involved.
The executive of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) is expected to set out its plans for strike action when it meets on Thursday.
Members of INMO and PNA voted in favour of strike action before Christmas after rejecting a €20 million package of proposals put forward by the Government to address recruitment and retention problems.