Nurses want 12pc rise on top of new pay deal
The main nursing union will demand a 12pc pay rise for its 40,000 members on top of any increases won by public servants at talks on a new wage deal this year.
A submission by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation to the Public Service Pay Commission, seen by the Irish Independent, said Ireland's nursing and midwifery workforce is in crisis due to staffing shortages, and its members are being tempted abroad or to private sector employers by higher pay and big incentive packages.
It said nursing shortages in the UK may already be as high as 190,000 with a million vacancies expected in the US by 2020.
The submission said there is significant justification for the commission to recommend the "adjustment" to pay it is seeking.
This would put nurses' wages on a par with therapeutic grades with similar education, including physiotherapists and occupational therapists.
General secretary of the INMO Liam Doran warned that the manner in which the labour market challenges facing nursing and midwifery are addressed in any pay talks in May will "heavily influence the INMO's approach to any new public sector pay agreement".
He said the union will seek an average 12pc increase in recognition of staff shortages and retention issues in addition to what is achieved by unions in having emergency legislation that cut their pay unwound.
"Our position is simple," he said. "We have to unwind the Financial Emergency Measures in the Public Interest legislation, and resolve the pay issue of nurses and midwives once and for all to ensure Ireland offers a competitive pay structure for nurses and midwives compared to competing countries."
The union recently called off a work-to-rule but reached a deal with the HSE and Department of Health worth an estimated €10m to address the staffing shortage. It included a pilot pre-retirement scheme and restoration of allowances for new entrants, but the union will seek further measures at talks on a successor to the Lansdowne Road Agreement.
The submission compares the basic pay of nurses and other public service grades, including radiographers, respiratory technicians, and teachers.
It also looks at the gardaí following their recent €50m pay deal after calling off strikes.
It notes that after one year, a staff nurse is on the lowest salary, €29,497, compared with €31,942 for a garda after the recent deal, €32,806 for a teacher and €35,981 for occupational therapists. After 15 years, they are still on the lowest pay of €43,800 compared with teachers' €55,710 salary.
However, the table does not include additional earnings like overtime and allowances.
The union noted that in almost all other cases, except for gardaí, the other public servants worked less than 37 hours a week, while nurses worked 39.
It said nurses rarely achieve full pensionable service, and average retirement is 61. This is mainly because it is a predominantly female workforce who would be more likely to seek a work/life balance.
The union said the HSE had rolled out a high-profile international recruitment campaign in the UK to bring home 500 nurses and midwives who may have left when there was an embargo on recruitment.
But it said the incentive package was not comparable with what was being offered elsewhere.