Nurses to consider strike ballot after rejection of pay proposals
HSE has offered new talks with INMO in an attempt to avert industrial action
The Government says between 18,000 and 20,000 nurses could benefit from its proposals. Photograph: Frank Miller
The leadership of the country’s largest nursing union is expected to consider on Monday whether to ballot its members for strike action over pay.
The executive of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) is to decide on its next steps in the aftermath of the decisive rejection by its members of Government pay proposals.
On Friday the Health Service Executive offered the INMO new talks this week in an attempt to avert potential industrial action in hospitals and the broader health service in the weeks ahead.
The nursing union had declined to attend a meeting of the group which oversees compliance with terms of the public-service agreement as it claimed that health service management had ignored all previous correspondence regarding future talks.
In a letter to the HSE on Friday, the INMO said health service management should set out its proposals to address recruitment and retention problems “prior to any meeting taking place with this organisation for meaningful engagement to proceed at that meeting”.
The INMO said the new talks proposals would be positively considered by the union’s executive on Monday.
It argued that the proposed talks should only be between the INMO and health service management and other unions should not be involved.
Members of the Psychiatric Nurses Association have also rejected Government pay proposals.
The proposals have been accepted by Siptu.
Nurses who are members of the INMO 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.
In September, the Government – 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.