Student nurses threaten strikes over 'slave' wages
HOSPITAL patients could face disruption after 6,000 student nurses threatened strikes and work protests over plans for new "slave" wages.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Association yesterday announced that it would hold work stoppages unless the Government reversed a plan to axe interns' pay.
Lunchtime protests and rallies will take place in the coming weeks and could escalate into strikes from early next month.
Last night, the Department of Health revealed that the plan would make savings of €32.5m by 2015. It claimed it was necessary "given the scale of the budget deficit" and the need to make savings under the National Recovery Plan.
Fourth-year student nurses get 80pc of a staff nurse's salary during a mandatory nine-month internship that is part of their degree programme.
The Government unveiled plans before Christmas to reduce their pay to 76pc of the staff rate this year.
It will gradually cut their pay each year until it is just 40pc of staff-nurse rates in 2014, or just over €5 an hour, before abolishing all payments in 2015.
The department said it would attend a meeting with unions at the Labour Relations Commission to discuss the cuts next week.
It said it was "satisfied" it had not breached legislation on consulting employees or the Croke Park Agreement.