THE demand that nurses revert to working a 39-hour week under the new Croke Park deal will be one of the most bitter pills for the profession to swallow.
The nurses endured a prolonged work- to- rule in 2007 in pursuit of a 35-hour week but had to settle for 37.5 hours.
The longer working week will mean a loss of income and is combined with a reduction in premium rates from double time to 1.75 times the normal hourly rate.
A nurse's pay for a 12-hour Sunday shift can range from €417 to €604. These sums will reduce to €365 and €516 under the new cuts.
The agreement includes some sweeteners, including the reinstatement of the senior nurse staff grade, which will benefit around 2,400 nurses who lost out when it was frozen in 2009.
This grade will mean a 4.8pc increase for nurses who lost out since then. However, Seamus Murphy of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) said this had already been agreed last September after management conceded it could be reinstated as long as it was cost neutral.
This could be achieved if the nurses agreed to an acting up role free of charge for three months if their senior nurse manager is on holidays or sick leave. There is also agreement that nursing unions can meet with Health Minister James Reilly on the controversial graduate nursing two-year contract which would see nurses paid 80pc of the normal starting salary.
Hospital consultants and other grades of medics in the public health service will feel the brunt of the cuts for higher earners. There will be an 8pc cut in salaries ranging between €80,000 and €150,000 and a 9pc reduction for consultants on salaries of €150,000 and €185,000.
Academic consultants will be the doctors most hit by the 10pc cut in earnings.
Junior doctors, who are particularly angry about their long working week, will lose out in cuts in premium rates for working Sundays and bank holidays.
Steve Tweed of the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO), said yesterday that the union would resist any attempts to impose the cut.