News Education

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Government urged to raise salaries of student nurses

Katherine Donnelly and Anne-Marie Walsh

Published 23/04/2014 | 02:30

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Ciara Gilligan attended the conference

THE Government has been urged to boost 'yellow pack' wages for student nurses after a minister promised better pay for teacher recruits.

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The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said "no group of workers should be left out in the cold", after Education Minister Ruairi Quinn delivered a major rowback on teachers' wages.

Speaking at an INTO conference, Mr Quinn noted that there were multiple pay scales in teaching. These included a pay scale for new entrants, whose wages were reduced by 10pc three years ago. He said he believed "progress could be made on that in the near future".

INMO deputy general secretary Dave Hughes called for an increase in pay rates for final-year nursing students, whose rates were slashed to half of that of a qualified nurse's pay.

He said the union was in talks at the Labour Relations Commission in a bid to improve the pay rates, which amount to €13,500 a year.

"It's all wrong what they've done with student nurses' pay," he said.

"It's unfair to be coming into the workforce and being treated in such a bad fashion. If they are going to address this issue across the board, they can't dump the effects of the recession on the youngest group of people coming into the workforce."

He said roughly 1,400 nurses qualify each year and every two students replace a full-time nurse in wards, carrying out all duties except giving medication.

Newly recruited teachers are one of the last group of public sector workers to get revised salary scales.

Revised pay scales were drawn up for most state employees last November.

However, fully qualified nurses' new entrant salary scales have only just been drawn up and staff are not on the revised format yet.

The move to new scales came after the last government slashed pay rates for all new recruits to the public sector by 10pc from January 2011.

Unions won a concession in the Haddington Road deal last year to integrate the new entrants' salary scales with those of existing staff.

As a result, pay scales for new entrants to the rest of the public sector were merged with the old salary system in November last year.

The old format is already a reduced pay scale, which was cut by an average 6pc when the recession hit.

It is understood the revised system ranges from the minimum point of the new scale to the maximum of the old scale.

This means that new entrants start on pay rates that have been reduced by 10pc and stay on these rates for roughly two years before moving up the old salary scale.

It is estimated that there are up to 2,000 teachers on the 2011 pay scale. The teachers involved lost about €2,000 a year and at the top of their 25-year scale they would be short about €4,000-€5,000 if the cuts were not restored. Final agreement on delivering a phased uplift in the salaries is expected within weeks.

INTO's Sheila Nunan told the conference it was "an absolute sore to have colleagues working alongside other colleagues for different pay rates".

The Department of Public Expenditure said talks were under way to discuss the scales for new teacher entrants.

Irish Independent

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