Sunday 17 February 2019

Hospital patients facing disruption as no breakthrough in talks over nursing pay dispute

Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation General Secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha.
Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation General Secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha.

Anne-Marie Walsh

HOSPITAL patients still face strike disruption at the end of the month as there was no breakthrough at talks on a nurses' pay dispute tonight.

General Secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, Phil Ni Sheaghdha, said there was a "very frank exchange of views" at a meeting of a body that oversees compliance with the public sector pay deal.

She said her members are preparing for a 24-hour strike in 12 days.

"We're doing everything we can to avert it," she said.

"We have set out the reality of what it is to provide a safe service in the health service and we want to be very assured that the other side understand that because the recruitment and retention problem is real. It is significantly interfering with the business of providing safe care. And that's the nub of it."

She said there was a long exchange on the crucial issue of whether the nurses' demands could be dealt with within the parameters of the public sector pay deal.

The Psychiatric Nurses Association, which is also planning industrial action, did not attend the meeting.

Members of her union plan to go on strike on January 30 and five days in February to get pay rises.

Ms Ni Sheaghdha said the proposals should "tell them someone was taking account of their working conditions and the terrible conditions in which they were trying to care for patients".

She said she hoped the government side was in the same mindset.

The INMO is meeting an Oversight Body that oversees compliance with the current public sector pay deal.

The government has warned nurses they are in breach of the deal by demanding pay rises above what is already due under the agreement.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe has warned that there is a major risk that giving the increase would trigger knock on claims by public servants.

Nurses want a 12pc increase to put them on a par with other health care professionals.

Meanwhile, a teacher union indicated a ballot for strike action may soon be on the cards over its rejection of a government proposal to reverse two tier pay.

ASTI President Breda Lynch said a ballot for strike action would be a “natural follow on” from her union's rejection of government proposals to deal with pay equality.

The ASTI executive will consider a ballot at a meeting on January 26.

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