Saturday 19 October 2019

Row over new contract for nurses offered to halt strikes referred to Labour Court

Striking nurses from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation protest outside Naas General Hospital in Co Kildare (Niall Carson/PA)
Striking nurses from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation protest outside Naas General Hospital in Co Kildare (Niall Carson/PA)

Anne Marie Walsh

A row over a new contract for nurses that was offered to halt crippling strikes has been referred to the Labour Court.

Talks between government officials and unions on the contract broke down in the early hours today.

The contract that includes a higher pay scale was offered as part of a €35m deal in return for more productivity and flexibility in nurses’ work practices.

Following a meeting of its executive council, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said the court will examine disputed clauses of the new draft contract.

It said that it has been deadlocked in talks with employers and drafts of the contract were “onerous” and “unreasonable”.

Balloting on the contract had been due to start today but the council has postponed the vote for two weeks.

INM General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said the union is deeply disappointed with the “government’s attempt to stretch the limits set by the Labour Court in these contract talks”.

“Government insistence on unreasonable contract terms would put nurses and midwives in some of the most insecure jobs in Ireland, allowing unilateral changes to work locations and hours,” she said. “We will not allow this.”

She claimed the contract proposals would worsen recruitment and retention problems.

“We believe that the government’s proposed contract goes far beyond the Labour Court recommendation and will be making this case firmly to the court on behalf of our members,” she said.

“Our constant focus is to improve conditions for our members and deliver safe patient care. We will continue to exhaust all avenues to achieve this aim.”

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