Tuesday 13 November 2018

Nurses facing threat of delayed pay rises and wage freeze if they strike

Money in place: Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has said resources have been allocated for latest financial package. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Money in place: Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has said resources have been allocated for latest financial package. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Anne-Marie Walsh

Nurses face the threat of a nine-month delay in pay rises and an increment freeze if they take industrial action to win another wage hike.

The Department of Public Expenditure and Reform has warned that unions who put themselves outside the current public sector pay deal cannot expect to reap its benefits.

This would mean having to wait much longer for pay rises than other public servants.

They are due increases worth between 6pc and 10pc of wages over the next three years. They would also have to sacrifice annual increments.

Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) are today expected to reject a €20m Government proposal to resolve retention issues.

The Government's advisory body on pay recommended this package that is worth up to €4,500 per nurse under the current wage deal.

Last week, Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe promised that "resources have been allocated" to pay it from March next year.

In addition, nurses who were hired over the last seven years are in line for an average €3,300 pay hike as a result of a deal to address a two-tier pay system in the public sector.

But the €20m package to address retention issues that includes hikes in allowances and a shortened pay scale only applies to specialised nurses.

Members of INMO are therefore tipped to reject it.

The union's executive council recommended a no vote, and demanded an across-the-board pay rise to put its 40,000 members' wages on a par with professionals like physiotherapists.

Members of the executive are due to meet today to consider the ballot result.

A Department of Public Expenditure and Reform spokesperson confirmed that nurses or any group that puts itself outside the Public Service Stability Agreement (PSSA) faces sanctions.

"Where individual unions or associations reject the measure and do not adhere to the terms of the PSSA 2018-2020 (eg through industrial action) they cannot expect to attract the benefits of the PSSA (including the awarding of pay increases and the payment of increments in line with those who are party to the PSSA)," said the spokesperson.

"The awarding of pay increases to those groups who would not be covered by the PSSA would be delayed by a period of nine months."

Irish Independent

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