Nearly 40,000 nurses on strike over pay parity

Conceding pay claim would ‘completely undermine’ budget – Government

Nurse’s strike outside Connolly Hospital in Dublin on Wednesday morning. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

Nurse’s strike outside Connolly Hospital in Dublin on Wednesday morning. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

 

Nearly 40,000 nurses are on strike today but the Government is arguing that conceding to their pay demands would end up “completely undermining” its budgetary position at a time of significant risk and uncertainty posed by Brexit.

Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure Paschal Donohoe said agreeing to provide additional pay rises for nurses would “no doubt generate knock-on or “leapfrogging” claims from the rest of the public service workforce, where there are already other well-aired pay grievances”.

Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) are staging the first in a series of six 24-hour work stoppages on Wednesday as part of a campaign to secure pay parity with other graduate-entry healthcare professional staff such as physiotherapists. The nurses maintain that such increases are needed to tackle recruitment and retention problems in the health service. The strike began at 8am.

Psychiatric nurses are to put in place an overtime ban on Thursday and will escalate their campaign to full work stoppages towards the middle of February.

More than 25,000 people have had procedures and appointments cancelled as a result of the strike. These had been scheduled to go ahead in hospitals and community facilities.

On Tuesday, the Labour Court decided not to intervene formally in the dispute.

Nurse’s strike outside Connolly Hospital in Dublin on Wednesday morning. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters
Nurse’s strike outside Connolly Hospital in Dublin on Wednesday morning. Photograph: Clodagh Kilcoyne/Reuters

No ‘realistic proposals’

The court said after engaging with public service management and the INMO for eight hours on Monday, it had concluded that an intervention at this time did not hold out the prospect of preventing the strike going ahead on Wednesday.

The INMO said the Government had not tabled any “realistic proposals” which could have headed off the strike.

INMO director of industrial relations Tony Fitzpatrick said: “The largest strike in the history of the health service looms and the Government seemingly has nothing to say. We are always open for talks and to receive realistic proposals to end this dispute.”