Tuesday 20 August 2019

Nurses will move onto a higher pay scale in less than two years - but face curbs on double jobbing

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)

Anne-Marie Walsh

NURSES will move onto a higher pay scale in less than two years but face curbs on double-jobbing under a new contract offered to end a strike threat.

The Labour Court has rejected a HSE demand that nurses work for two years before they qualify to move onto the new scale.

Instead, they would move onto a new enhanced pay scale after a year and 16 weeks in their job.

In a new recommendation, the court also rules out the possibility of split shifts where a nurse might be required to go home for a number of hours before returning to work.

But the proposal specifies that legal limits on double-jobbing will be upheld.

"Work outside the confines of this contract is not permissible if the combined working time associated with this employment taken together with any other employment exceeds the maximum weekly working hours as set out in the Organisation of Working Time Act," it says.

The recommendation if accepted by unions in a ballot  would give the HSE considerable flexibility in rostering. nurses and midwives

It says:

-nurses may be required to provide services at other places of work "on a regular or intermittent basis" as required by the employer

-rosters "may provide for a variety of shifts".

-It also mentions "measures" to ensure an "equitable distribution" of premium pay.

Health Minister Simon Harris said the recommendation is a "sensible" way forward,.

"I hope the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation can now proceed with its ballot but that is a matter for them," he said.

The court issued the recommendation to resolve the long-running dispute that led to crippling strikes earlier this year.

It deals with nurses’ and midwives’ location during shifts, their duties, hours of work and the qualifying criteria that will apply to move onto an ‘enhanced’ payscale.

The threat of further industrial action re emerged recently when talks between the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation and government officials on the terms of a new contract broke down.

Although nurses on the contract would benefit from higher pay, the union objected to HSE demands that would give it greater control over rostering.

This included an initial proposal to enable the employer to ask nurses to move to another workplace within 43km within a shift.

The INMO’s Executive Council recommended that members vote to accept proposals aimed at resolving their recent strike.

“This Labour Court recommendation is a total vindication for what the INMO has said about the government’s draft contract. The government’s proposals were completely unreasonable and we are glad to see the Court has recognised this," said the leader of the union for 40,000 nurses Phil Ní Sheaghdha.

“There is no longer anything to fear in this new contract."

Siptu, whose 4,000 nursing members did not go on strike, said it s received the latest of two court recommendations aimed at resolving the dispute.

Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said in the coming days it will convene a meeting of members of its National Nurses and Midwives Sector Committee.

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