Junior doctors become latest to warn over industrial action
Hospitals are braced for a chaotic winter of industrial unrest as doctors and nurses embark on campaigns to improve their pay and conditions.
Junior doctors in the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) are the latest group to get a mandate to ballot for industrial action if they fail to secure a return of a €3,182 accommodation allowance. This was removed from medical graduates working since 2012.
The allowance was designed to help support the rent of trainee doctors who must move hospitals every six months.
Talks between the doctors' union and the HSE on the demand for a return of the allowance are due to begin tomorrow following legal action by the IMO.
IMO President Dr John Duddy said that the union's council had given the go ahead to begin a ballot for industrial action if the talks are not successful in the coming weeks.
Around 3,000 junior doctors currently working in the health service who graduated since 2012 would benefit.
It means the HSE may have to find over €6.3m to pay the allowances from its budget next year to stop industrial action up to and including strike by the vital medical staff.
They are also demanding retrospection, which would add another €10m to the bill, but this is unlikely to be paid.
"The pay policy of this Government has led directly to the inability to retain or recruit doctors," said Dr Duddy.
"If you breach contracts and deliberately create a policy that disrespects and devalues doctors they will simply choose to work for countries that value them."
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation also begins two days of deliberation today on pay restoration, staffing levels, working hours and nurse workloads.
It is expected to see a ballot for industrial action that will trigger if hospital beds are not reduced, where there are not enough nurses to staff them.