Hospital services to be scaled back as nurses plan strikes
INMO announces six days of work stoppages in January and February over pay issues
Nurses say they will only provide life-saving and emergency care on six days over the coming weeks as part of a series of strikes linked to their pursuit of pay rises.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) announced on Tuesday that it planned to stage work stoppages on January 30th, and then on February 5th, 7th, 12th, 13th and 14th.
Psychiatric nurses are expected to announce separate plans for strike action when their union’s executive meets on Thursday in what is building up to a major test of the Government’s public service pay policy. The nursing unions maintain pay increases are needed to address staff recruitment and retention issues.
The Department of Health and the HSE are to hold talks with nurses next Tuesday, which are expected to deal mainly with contingency arrangements for the planned strike days.
However, the INMO is likely to be pressed on its precise demands, and some sources said a review of issues affecting nurses, including their role, responsibilities, professional development as well as pay, may also come up for discussion.
A source added that the Government – in particular the Department of Public Expenditure – was not agreeing to such a discussion taking place at present.
It is unclear whether such a review would be sufficient for the nursing unions to call off the strikes, or if they would seek to secure some form of financial benefit as a “downpayment” in advance.
The Government is keen to not let the nurses’ demands, which Ministers claim could cost €300 million, damage the wider public service pay agreement. There is concern that providing concessions to one group could lead to a spate of other pay claims.
The Department of Public Expenditure on Tuesday night insisted the health service was able to recruit and retain nurses and midwives.
It argued that turnover rates were low, and that the salaries offered were competitive, starting at €31,110 for those who had just qualified to practise, with additional allowance and premium payments bringing the annual package to more than €37,000.