Sunday 22 September 2019

Revealed: Nurses to get €20m pay boost from March next year

Public Sector

State talk: Employment Affairs and Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty talks to the media after launch of Budget 2018
State talk: Employment Affairs and Social Protection Minister Regina Doherty talks to the media after launch of Budget 2018

Anne-Marie Walsh

FINANCE Minister Paschal Donohoe has promised to give nurses a €20m pay boost from March next year.

In what will be seen as a strong pre-election appeal, Mr Donohoe emphasised the wage hikes that are on the way for the public-sector workforce of almost 300,000 in his Budget speech.

In previous budgets, he has generally made only passing mention of the funding set aside for wage hikes in the following year's pay bill.

However, the public-sector pay bill is likely to reach peak levels next year due to promised pay rises and additional recruitment.

The Finance Minister said the Government has delivered by setting up the Public Service Pay Commission, which recently published its second report into retention issues in the health service.

Although he noted the commission found there were no general recruitment and retention difficulties for nurses and midwives, it recommended a €20m hike in allowances for some.

"This Government accepts the findings and recommendations of the pay commission," he said.

"Resources have been allocated to implement this recommendation from March 2019, subject to acceptance by the relevant unions."

Mr Donohoe also noted all public servants are already set to benefit from an existing pay deal, while new entrants on lower rates will catch up with their colleagues under a separate package.

The Government and public servants are now in the second year of the current pay deal, the Public Service Stability Agreement.

A total of €1.2bn is committed to increase pay under this deal up to 2021.

"This benefits different income groups by between 6.2pc and 10pc over a three-year period," the minister said.

However, Mr Donohoe claimed the increases are in line with general wage developments in the economy.

He said they provided a negotiated pathway for dismantling financial emergency legislation, which was a "core commitment" of the Programme for Government.

On new entrant pay, the Finance Minister outlined the benefits of a recent deal for more than 61,500 staff.

He noted the deal means new and existing members of staff will take the same time to reach the top of their salary scales.

"It will cost approximately €200m out to 2025 and will benefit over 61,500 new entrants, including 16,000 teachers, nearly 5,000 special needs assistants and almost 10,000 nurses," he said.

Mr Donohoe said the measures that were recently agreed with public-sector unions "make good on this Government's commitment" and provide certainty.

Mr Donohoe said that "ensuring value for money" from this additional investment was vitally important, although he did not provide many details on this.

However, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation responded to his offer of a €20m allowances boost by calling for an across-the-board pay rise.

The union has threatened industrial action unless a "serious" pay offer is made.

"The HSE simply cannot hire enough on these pay levels," said general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha.

Irish Independent

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