Nurses' support for new deal hinges on special wage hike
The leader of a union for 40,000 nurses has warned that their support for any new public sector pay agreement will hinge on a special wage deal for his members.
General secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation Liam Doran said the Government must address the problem of recruiting and retaining nurses with higher wages.
Although nurses struck a deal with the HSE worth an estimated €10m after calling off a work-to-rule earlier this year in a dispute over understaffing, they will demand further pay rises at talks on a new public sector pay deal this month.
The €10m deal included a pilot pre-retirement scheme, restoration of allowances for new entrants and a €3,000 'sweetener' for nurses who return home from abroad.
Mr Doran warned his union's response to any deal that may be brokered at talks will be "heavily influenced" by how understaffing is addressed.
"The recent deal offers €3,000 when someone comes back as a sweetener," he said. "I don't think there's any other grade getting that kind of carrot."
However, he described it as a band-aid solution to a solve a serious wound.
He said the ball is in the Government's court and the solution had to involve a pay improvement for nurses and midwives at the new talks.
Delegates at the union's annual conference will demand a 12pc pay rise on top of any increases given to public servants at the talks in an emergency motion tomorrow.
Pay and staffing will be the dominant themes at this year's conference in Wexford, which begins today.
Another motion, tabled by the Dublin South West branch, asks the union to withdraw from the Lansdowne Road Agreement immediately. It said it should then begin industrial action up to a strike.
A motion tabled by the Laois branch demands the union seeks the immediate restoration of €1.4bn cuts imposed under emergency legislation. This will be Mr Doran's last conference as general secretary after 20 years at the helm of the union as he plans to retire at the end of the year.