Thursday 22 August 2019

Nurses' ballot paves way for €100 weekly boost in pay, allowances

Phil Ní Sheaghdha: Proud of the safe, patient-focused strike
Phil Ní Sheaghdha: Proud of the safe, patient-focused strike
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Some nurses will be more than €5,100 better off under the new pay and allowance deal, which was voted for by a majority in the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) yesterday,

A midwife earning €36,383 will see their basic pay increase to €39,265 - and on top of this they are in line for a €2,230 location allowance.

The cost of the deal will be around €50m for 2019 and 2020, but it could be more if the promised productivity measures fail to materialise for the Exchequer.

The union's ballot result reported a 62pc vote in favour of acceptance - a lower majority than expected.

Nurses engaged in three days of strike action in January and February this year, bringing hospital and community health services to a standstill before the peace terms were agreed at Labour Court negotiations.

Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe insisted the deal struck with the nurses' union did not breach the national wage agreement.

But now the ballot is over there will be inevitable unrest among other unions.

The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) will also benefit from the agreement, but it has yet to agree to its terms.

The nurses' agreement is aimed to alleviate the recruitment and retention difficulties faced by hospitals and parts of the health service.

It will see a new, higher salary scale for staff nurses and midwives and increased and expanded allowances.

An independent expert group is to look at pay or thousands of nurses in managerial grades who lost out in this agreement.

INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said: "INMO nurses and midwives fought hard for patient safety and staffing in a determined, controlled and collective manner. We are extremely proud of the safe, patient-focused strike organised by our strike committees.

"The Government has committed to full implementation of these proposals. We now seek an immediate meeting with them to ensure this happens without delay."

Health Minister Simon Harris welcomed the result and said the new enhanced nurses' contract should be the beginning of a transformation process of the profession.

"I would now like to see eligible staff nurses and midwives move to the new role of enhanced nurse and make sure that both the profession and the patient see the benefits as soon as possible," he said.

Meanwhile, Peter Hughes, general secretary of the PNA, told the union's annual meeting the recruitment and retention crisis shows no signs of easing with the emigration of psychiatric nursing graduates, the attraction of better pay and conditions in the private sector and a prospect of 34pc of psychiatric nurses retiring by 2021 all adding to the crisis.

The near collapse of mental health services in some parts of the country during the recent PNA ban on overtime highlighted the reliance of the services on overtime and agency staff, and the lack of staff, he added.

Irish Independent

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