Siptu says it would be ‘premature’ to ballot nurses on proposed new contract

Union signals proposals to resolve members’ dispute not acceptable to psychiatric nurses

Siptu has about 4,000 nurse members across acute, community and mental health settings. Photograph: Frank Miller

Siptu has about 4,000 nurse members across acute, community and mental health settings. Photograph: Frank Miller


The trade union Siptu has said it would be “premature” to put the proposed new nursing contract to a ballot.

The union also signalled that proposals put forward to resolve the recent dispute involving nurses and midwives in acute hospital settings would not be acceptable to nurses working in mental health services.

The introduction of a new nursing contract was one the key elements in the proposals put forward to resolve the recent strike by nurses and midwives.

Following a meeting of its nursing and midwives sector committee on Monday Siptu said it had been decided not to ballot members on a Labour Court recommendation on the proposed new nursing contract which emerged last week.

Siptu said the Government had “failed to confirm crucial details on a revised contract of employment for the proposed enhanced nursing and midwifery role”.

Siptu has about 4,000 nurse members across acute, community and mental health settings.

Last week the leadership of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), which represents nearly 40,000 nurses, urged its members to back the settlement proposals in a ballot.

Siptu said on Monday it would not initiate a ballot or make a recommendation to our nursing and midwifery members until we are in a position to present all the facts to our members.

Siptu health division organiser Paul Bell said the union would not conduct a ballot until all negotiations were concluded on behalf of its members in the mental health service.

He warned that a “one-size-fits-all model” would not work and that proposals aimed at resolving the nursing and midwifery dispute in the acute settings would “not be accepted as a resolution to claims presented by nurses in the mental health sector”.

Siptu nursing sector organiser Kevin Figgis said: “Our members in nursing and midwifery are of the view that until they can make an informed decision then balloting would be premature. Our members have not seen a new contract and are still in the dark as it whether the employer itself accepts the terms of the contract. ”

He said Siptu members wanted clarity on the proposed new contract and all issues pertaining to their right to benefit from the existing terms under the current public service agreement.

The INMO said last week the Labour Court had proposed a new contract which it could propose positively to its members as it was a “progressive” proposal which guaranteed that nurses and midwives would be central to the development of the health service.

The Labour Court recommendation contained significant changes to the terms of the proposed contract from those originally tabled by health service management.

A specific provision contained in the draft contract that nurses could be required to move to another location, as much as 40km away, during a single shift was not included.

A highly controversial proposal in the draft contract drawn up by management that employers could seek nurses to work four, six, eight, 10 and 12 hour shifts was not contained either in the Labour Court’s recommendation. It said nurses’ rosters may be subject to change and “may provide for a variety of shifts”.