Monday 14 October 2019

Double-jobbing nurses face curbs under draft Government contract

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

Anne-Marie Walsh and Eilish O'Regan

Nurses would face curbs on double-jobbing under a new contract put forward as part of a €35m deal to end strikes.

A row has erupted over the terms being sought by Government officials as part of the new contract that includes a higher salary scale.

Talks between the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and health service officials broke down in the early hours yesterday and have been referred to the Labour Court.

But secretary general of the INMO Phil Ní Sheaghdha indicated there would be no rush by members back to the picket lines. She said members were "going to exhaust the procedure".

The talks broke down over a number of flexibility and productivity changes that nurses are being asked for in return for increases in pay and allowances.

The draft contract seeks limits on nurses with two jobs.

It says "work outside the confines of this contract is not permissible" if the combined working time goes beyond the maximum weekly hours set out in legislation.

It refers to the Organisation of Working Time Act, which limits the average working weeks for most employees to 48 hours.

Sources said this was an attempt to limit the practice of nurses working for agencies on days off. They said there was no protocol to monitor those who supplemented their income in this way.

A requirement that nurses could be asked to work up to 43km away during a shift and a greater variety of shifts ranging from four to 12 hours are also stumbling blocks to an agreement.

The document says nurses may be "required to work such reasonable additional hours as may be necessary to meet service needs", while rosters may be changed from time to time in line with clinical or service need. It also mentions "measures to ensure an equitable distribution of premium pay".

Ms Ní Sheaghdha said the initial contract tabled by the HSE was 20 pages long - but had been whittled down.

But she said the "big net issues" were still outstanding.

"The contract would have nurses working in different locations on the same day and we have said to the employer that's not a contract that we could recommend in any setting and I don't think, to be fair, it's a contract that exists in the public sector," she said.

The Government is under intense pressure to get as much as it can in return for the pay package - to deter other public servants from making knock-on claims.

Irish Independent

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