Thursday 22 March 2018

Refusal to give nurses pay rise will 'inflame' dispute

Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Arthur Carron
Public Expenditure and Reform Minister Paschal Donohoe. Photo: Arthur Carron

Anne Marie Walsh

A union has warned the government it will "inflame" a dispute over staff shortages if it refuses to give nurses a €1,000 pay rise for taking industrial action.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation's caution came after Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Paschal Donohoe, said there would be "consequences" if "we get to a point that there is industrial difficulty".

Mr Donohoe indicated that a €1,000 pay rise that is due to be paid to all public servants from April may be withheld.

The wage increase had been due in September under the Lansdowne Road Agreement but was brought forward to compensate public servants who did not benefit from a €50m Garda pay deal.

Gardaí got an extra €4,000 added to their earnings due to the deal that was offered in a Labour Court recommendation to avoid an unprecedented strike last November.

Mr Donohoe said the pay increase was "subject to the maintenance of industrial stability" and if an issue developed the parties should use the industrial relations mechanisms of the State.

He said the nurses' representative bodies are currently engaged with a Lansdowne Road Agreement Oversight Body and that was a condition for the wage increase being brought forward.

"They are now participating," he said.

"If we get to a point that there is industrial difficulty, there will be consequences for that. But if the process that we've outlined doesn't work, we'll deal with the consequences of that in a few weeks time."

The INMO is due to meet the health service employers next Tuesday to discuss contingency planning during the industrial action.

Earlier this month, the INMO rejected staffing, recruitment and retention proposals put forward by the HSE, describing them as "totally inadequate".

"The clear message received from INMO members is that their workplaces are now unsafe and dangerously overcrowded," general secretary Liam Doran said, adding the service was at "breaking point".

Meanwhile hospital support staff will begin an all-out strike in a dispute over the national public service agreements - on the same day as the nurses' industrial action.

Trade union Siptu announced that health service support staff voted by 94pc in favour of taking strike action, which will begin in selected hospitals on Tuesday, March 7.

Irish Independent

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