Nurses to be offered new talks in bid to avert potential industrial action over pay

New negotiations likely to be scheduled for end of next week

It is understood that the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation will be invited to attend direct talks with the HSE, possibly on November 8th.

It is understood that the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation will be invited to attend direct talks with the HSE, possibly on November 8th.

 

Nurses are to be invited to new talks with health service management next week in an attempt to head off potential industrial action in hospitals over pay.

The executive of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) is to meet on Monday to consider its next steps, including whether to ballot members for industrial action, following their overwhelming rejection of Government pay proposals.

The nursing union had declined to attend a meeting of the group which oversees compliance with terms of the public service agreement .

It is understood that the INMO will be invited to attend direct talks with the HSE, possibly on November 8th.

A letter offering the new talks is expected to be sent to the INMO on Friday.

The executive of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) is scheduled to meet on November 15th to consider a ballot for industrial action after its members also voted to reject Government pay proposals.

Nurses had sought an across-the-board pay rise to deal with recruitment and retention problems in the health service.

However, the Public Service Pay Commission found there was no generalised recruitment and retention problem in nursing and midwifery although it highlighted localised difficulties.

The Government in September – based on recommendations of the commission – put forward a €20 million package of measures aimed at dealing with recruitment and retention problems in some areas of the health service including increased allowances and faster access to promotion posts. The Government maintained between 18,000 and 20,000 nurses could benefit from the proposals.

Some nurses could also benefit from a separate Government initiative to address the two-tier pay system in the public service under which staff recruited since 2011 are paid less than longer-serving colleagues.

However some nurses would benefit from neither of the Government’s new pay proposals.

After members of the INMO rejected the pay proposals in September, the union sought direct talks on pay issues with the Department of Health, the Health Service Executive and the Department of Public Expenditure.

The Minister for Health Simon Harris said a fortnight ago that he expected further “engagement” with the INMO to take place over the coming weeks after the rejection of the pay proposals.

However no direct talks were convened, leading to an impasse with nursing leaders refusing to attend the public service agreement oversight body.

Separately the Government is also facing potential industrial action in schools after primary teachers who are members of the INTO rejected the proposals to end the two-tier pay system.

The INTO executive is to meet next Wednesday to consider whether to ballot its members for industrial action.