The provision of an across-the-board 12 per cent pay rise for nurses would cost about €300 million,the Department of Public Expenditure has said.
The department cited the figure in response to calls from nurses for pay parity with other health staff such as physiotherapists and speech and language therapists who, they maintain, are paid about €7,000 more but work fewer hours each week. The department says this would be a 12 per cent pay increase.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has said it will ballot its members for strike action next week unless the Government tables “realistic” pay proposals. Any strike could involve 24-hour stoppages in hospitals across the State.
Members of the INMO and the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) in an earlier ballot in September overwhelmingly rejected existing Government pay proposals to tackle recruitment and retention difficulties in the health service.
The department said if nurses went on strike and strayed outside the existing public service agreement they would lose out on the recent Government proposals for a €20 million package of measures for nurses to deal with recruitment and retention problems as well as a separate initiaive to eliminate the lower pay rates for staff appointed after 2011. It warned that nurses could also lose out on increments in the event of a strike.
The department said that “as of May 2018 the estimated annual spend on nursing and midwifery pay (excluding agency and employer PRSI) was €2.16 billion for 37,520 full-timeequivalent nurses and midwives”. It said this indicated that, on average, nurses and midwives earned around €57,602 when allowances and premium payments were factored in.
The PNA is expecting to receive a response from health servicemanagement on Tuesday to its proposals for members to receive special pay increase as a “down payment” to encourage members to take part on an overall salary review.
The PNA’s executive is to meet on Thursday to decide if it should ballot its members for strike action.