Tuesday 23 July 2019

Harris says nurses’ strike will not be solved by ‘megaphone diplomacy’

Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) are planning to take part in the strike action on January 30.

Health Minister Simon Harris (Niall Carson/PA)
Health Minister Simon Harris (Niall Carson/PA)

By Aoife Moore, Press Association

Minister for Health Simon Harris has said the upcoming strike action by Irish nurses will not be solved by “megaphone diplomacy”.

Nurses are planning to strike for 24 hours later this month over a pay dispute.

Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) will take part in the action on January 30.

The organisation says the decision to hold a national strike is in response to low wages and concerns of safe staffing in the public health service.

The INMO claims that the number of staff nurses fell by 6% (1,754) between 2008 and 2018.

However, talks are to go ahead on Tuesday between relevant stakeholders and the government to try and resolve the issue.

“The situation in relation to nurses’ dispute is that there will be engagement tomorrow with my department, the HSE and relevant unions. I think its really important everyone puts their shoulder to the wheel and tries to find a solution,” Mr Harris said.

“Lets remember that in the case of the INMO, they have signed up to a public sector pay agreement, they are a member of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, and with public sector pay agreements come benefits to your members and also come responsibilities in terms of not causing industrial unrest.

“I have huge respect for the INMO and the work of our nurses and midwives, but I am also conscious of fact that we have a public service pay agreement in place, a collective agreement and we can’t have side pay agreements in relation to that.

“Disputes are resolved by engagement and no other way, certainly not through megaphone diplomacy, so my department and the HSE will be working as hard as we can and hoping we have willing partners to avoid strike action.

“It would not good for patients, nurses and midwives, and in my view is unwarranted. There is a way forward, but that involves willing partners and working together and working in the confines of the public sector pay agreement.”

If the pay dispute is not resolved, the INMO said it will hold further strikes on February 5 and 7.

The INMO said its members will withdraw their labour for 24 hours, but will continue to provide lifesaving care and emergency response teams.

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