Nurses strike again today after fresh talks bid rejected

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Nurses strike again today after fresh talks bid rejected

  • Second 24-hour strike by 37,000 nurses is set to go ahead today
  • INMO’s Phil Ní Sheaghdha rejected immediate discussions at the Workplace Relations Commission
  • ‘What happened today was an attempt to spin; to protect the political system’ – Ní Sheaghdha

Members of the INMO during their 24-hour stoppage at Crumlin Children’s Hospital. Photo: Mark Condren
Members of the INMO during their 24-hour stoppage at Crumlin Children’s Hospital. Photo: Mark Condren

A second 24-hour strike by 37,000 nurses is set to go ahead today after the leader of the main nursing union shot down a bid by ministers for fresh talks.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe and Health Minister Simon Harris called for immediate discussions at the Workplace Relations Commission.

They said talks should focus on issues other than pay, including a ‘safe staffing framework’ to improve staff and patient “outcomes” and reduce reliance on agency staff.

But the general secretary of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO), Phil Ní Sheaghdha, rejected the olive branch.

She described it as “one of the most cynical moves” she had seen during a career of more than 20 years in industrial relations.

The union leader described the talks that would not address its key demand for a pay rise as massively disrespectful to nurses, midwives and patients.



Heavy heart: Cork nurse Margaret Keohane (46) doesn’t ‘know one nurse who wanted to be on strike’Heavy heart: Cork nurse Margaret Keohane (46) doesn’t ‘know one nurse who wanted to be on strike’

Heavy heart: Cork nurse Margaret Keohane (46) doesn’t ‘know one nurse who wanted to be on strike’

She said the staffing initiative was a recycled “broken agreement that hasn’t been maintained” in the past that was being “dressed up as something new”.

“I don’t think the public is foolish enough to fall for that one,” she added.

She said her members had exhausted the talks process but management did not table proposals.

Ms Ní Sheaghdha denied that her union’s demand for equal pay with other healthcare professionals amounted to a 12pc pay claim.



Protest: Nurses Clodagh O’Sullivan and Deirdre McDonald at the Mater in Dublin.
Photo: Mark CondrenProtest: Nurses Clodagh O’Sullivan and Deirdre McDonald at the Mater in Dublin.
Photo: Mark Condren

Protest: Nurses Clodagh O’Sullivan and Deirdre McDonald at the Mater in Dublin.
Photo: Mark Condren

She said it was a gross exaggeration to say it would cost €300m.

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Her union has proposals that demonstrate a pay rise could be funded by cutting agency staff costs and expensive recruitment measures, she added.



Patients branded Ireland’s nurses strike a dark day for all and urged swift resolution of a dispute which risks paralysing the health system (Niall Carson/PA).Patients branded Ireland’s nurses strike a dark day for all and urged swift resolution of a dispute which risks paralysing the health system (Niall Carson/PA).

Patients branded Ireland’s nurses strike a dark day for all and urged swift resolution of a dispute which risks paralysing the health system (Niall Carson/PA).

“I genuinely think that the public know that we will do anything to resolve this dispute once we know the other side is genuine,” she said.

“What happened today was an attempt to spin; to protect the political system.”

A spokesperson for the INMO said the union did not receive an invitation from the Workplace Relations Commission. He said strike preparations will continue.

A spokesperson for the Psychiatric Nurses Association, which is also demanding a pay rise, said any invitation to talks that do not address pay “would be of no benefit” in addressing recruitment and retention issues.

However, Government sources said it had been in touch with the Workplace Relations Commission to outline its position.

Mr Harris described Ms Ní Sheaghdha’s comments as really unhelpful rhetoric.

He said everyone needs to take a deep breath so the dispute can be resolved.

Mr Harris said the Government is “on a tightrope” as a pay rise would trigger knock-on claims by other public servants.

However, he said the Government is in “solution mode”.

Irish Independent


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