Hopes rise action can be averted as nurses agree talks
Hopes that next week's industrial action by nurses can be averted have risen following a decision by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) to agree to new talks.
The proposed action, involving a work-to-rule, is scheduled to begin on Tuesday and major disruption is expected, including bed closures, if it goes ahead.
It will be Saturday before a decision is made by the union on whether to suspend the action.
Hospitals and other health services have made contingency plans that would see the cancellation of surgery and other procedures from Tuesday.
If the nurses' union decides to suspend the action services will continue as normal next week.
The dispute relates to the lack of incentives to ease the nursing recruitment and retention crisis faced by the health service.
The INMO said yesterday that following a meeting of its executive it considered a statement on the Lansdowne Road Agreement oversight body.
The oversight body's statement told the nurses' union it risked breaching the Lansdowne Road Agreement.
Industrial action could lead to pay freezes. It urged the union to enter into talks at the Workplace Relations Commission and if necessary refer issues to the Labour Court for binding arbitration.
Following a meeting of its executive, the INMO said yesterday that in deference to the oversight body, it is willing to engage, on the issues in dispute, at the Workplace Relations Commission.
It said it is willing to commence these discussions "immediately".
It said the executive council also agreed at its meeting that the outcome of this process will be considered at Saturday's meeting.
The union demanded a range of concessions including payment for meal breaks, restoration of twilight time payments and the return of various allowances.
Several hospitals are struggling to maintain services and have had to close beds due to a lack of nurses.
Health Minister Simon Harris said 1,000 nurses would be offered jobs this year. He urged employers and unions to get back into talks or have the issues referred to binding arbitration.
The cost of all the union's demands have been put at €180m.