Monday 16 September 2019

Over 35,000 days lost as impact of nurse and hospital staff strikes is calculated

Nurses pictured during the rally at Merrion Square, in support of Nurses and Midwives pay
Picture Credit: Frank McGrath
Nurses pictured during the rally at Merrion Square, in support of Nurses and Midwives pay Picture Credit: Frank McGrath

Anne-Marie Walsh

Over 35,100 working days were lost mainly due to disputes by nurses and hospital support staff in the first half of this year.

New official figures reveal that 34,693 days were lost due to disputes in the ‘human health and social work’ sector in the first six months of this year.

This is a giant jump since last year when a total of 4,050 days were lost for the whole year.

However, the yearly figures for days lost due to industrial action have fallen significantly after hitting a high point in 2016.

In that year, over 71,000 days were lost due to industrial disputes.

A spokesperson at the Central Statistics Office would not say which companies were involved in the disputes this year due to GDPR (general data protection regulation) issues.

However, the two biggest disputes were rows between public sector workers in health and the government over pay.

Up to 40,000 nurses went on strike after demanding pay rises due to alleged recruitment and retention issues earlier this year.

They eventually called off the industrial action after being offered a new contract that includes an ‘enhanced pay scale’ and the extension of allowances to thousands of nurses.

It costs in excess of €34m a year.

This was followed by a 24-hour strike by hospital support staff including porters, chefs and cleaners in June.

They demanded that the government increase their wages in line with recommendations made under a job evaluation scheme.

It has been estimated that this deal will cost in the region of €15m.

The figures show there were three industrial disputes in progress between April and June this year involving 10,505 workers and three firms, and 7,693 days were lost.

This followed the loss of 27,415 days in the first three months of the year when there were three disputes involving 32,400 staff.

According to the CSO the human health and social work activities sector accounted for almost 99pc of the days lost between April and June this year.

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