Thursday 27 June 2019

Nurses vote to stage 24-hours strike action

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

Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation General Secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha.
Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation General Secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha.

By Cate McCurry, Press Association

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 strike action on January 30.

If the pay dispute is not resolved, it will hold further strikes on February 5 and 7, and then on the 12, 13 and 14 next month.

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

It says that 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.

It will be only the second national strike in the INMO’s 100-year history.

The ball is in the Government’s court. This strike can be averted. Phil Ni Sheaghdha

INMO general secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha said: “Going on strike is the last thing a nurse or midwife wants to do.

“But the crisis in recruitment and retention has made it impossible for us to do our jobs properly.

“We are not able give patients the care they deserve under these conditions.

“The HSE simply cannot recruit enough nurses and midwives on these wages. Until that changes, the health service will continue to go understaffed and patient care will be compromised.

“The ball is in the Government’s court. This strike can be averted.

“All it takes is for the Government to acknowledge our concerns, engage with us directly, and work to resolve this issue, in a pro-active manner.

“We were due to meet with the Government in the national oversight body in December, but the meeting was cancelled.

“Like many patients in Ireland’s health service, we are still waiting for an appointment.”

INMO president Martina Harkin-Kelly said: “We entered these professions because we care for our patients. We’ll be going on strike for the exact same reason.

“Ireland’s patients deserve better than this understaffed health service.

“Nurses and midwives are now globally traded assets.

“The public health service no longer pays a competitive wage, so we can no longer get the necessary number of nurses and midwives.

“We are calling on the public to support us. Nurses and midwives are always there for you when you need help. Now we need your help.”

The Minister for Health Simon Harris said he does not believe industrial action is “warranted” and could be avoided.

The minister said there is a “clear need for engagement and it is essential that the time is used by all sides to find a resolution to this dispute”.

He added that health sector management will invite the INMO to meet with them next week.

A spokeswoman for the HSE said: “Whilst we acknowledge the right of staff to engage in industrial action, the HSE is disappointed at the decision of the INMO to commence industrial action.

“Industrial action at any time is severely disruptive in the health service, but is even more so at this time, given the demands and pressures that currently exist in all areas of service delivery within the health services.”

The spokeswoman added that the HSE will contact the INMO to try and have the “unnecessary industrial action averted”.

“However, industrial action can only occur within the terms of the Public Service Pay Agreement, which has been accepted by all parties including the INMO,” it added.

Press Association

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