Friday 26 May 2017

Nurses warned action in breach of Lansdowne Agreement

'The body overseeing the Lansdowne Road Agreement has told the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation to defer industrial action over staff shortages due to begin next week or it would be in breach of the deal' Stock photo: Getty
'The body overseeing the Lansdowne Road Agreement has told the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation to defer industrial action over staff shortages due to begin next week or it would be in breach of the deal' Stock photo: Getty

Anne-Marie Walsh

Nurses have been warned they face pay freezes unless they defer industrial action next week because it would be in breach of the Lansdowne Road Agreement.

The body overseeing the Lansdowne Road Agreement has told the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation to defer industrial action over staff shortages due to begin next week or it would be in breach of the deal.

Although the INMO is signed up to the agreement, under emergency legislation, the Government has the power to freeze the pay of workers who are outside the deal. It has frozen ASTI members' increments and they cannot avail of promotions.

In a document, seen by the Irish Independent, the Lansdowne Road Oversight Body, made up of unions and Government officials, said the union and health management should immediately enter talks at the Workplace Relations Commission. If necessary, they should refer the dispute to the Labour Court for binding arbitration.

"The body recommends that, in accordance with the agreement, the proposed industrial action should be deferred to allow this engagement to take place," it said. "Failure to abide by the processes to resolve disputes set out under the agreement, would leave the party concerned in breach of the Lansdowne Road Agreement."

It said the INMO informed the oversight body that progress on a range of pay-related issues was required in order to prevent the industrial action from going ahead.

These were:

The provision of time for continuous professional development;

Payment for meal breaks;

Restoration of time-and-a-sixth (twilight time) across the sector;

Reinstitution of a pre-retirement initiative;

Reinstatement of new entrant specialist allowances to include: the Island Inducement Allowance, the Gaeltacht Allowance, the Registered General Nurse in Community Allowance, the Specialist Co-ordinator Allowance for Nurse Tutors and the Nurse Assigned to Occupational Therapy Allowance.

It said health managers highlighted to the body the "significant cost-increasing" nature of these demands.

The proposed industrial action clearly falls within the meaning of industrial action as set out in the agreement that says that "strikes or other forms of industrial action by trade unions, employees or employers are precluded in respect of any matter covered by this agreement, where the employer, trade union or staff association are acting in accordance within the provisions of this agreement".

It said a joint statement issued by the parties on January 17 this year stated that industrial peace would be fully observed in all sectors.

Irish Independent

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