Nurse file photo
The possibility of industrial action appears to have increased today after the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation announced 94% of its membership have rejected proposals emanating from the employers to address the recruitment and retention crisis in nursing and midwifery.
The proposals put to the organisation in the context of Clause 3 of the Public Service Pay Stability Agreement involved an increase in some allowances and a reduction in the number of years required to become a senior staff nurse.
The government had hoped that separate proposals relating to new entrants, defined as those employed in the Public Services post-2011 when pay cuts had disadvantaged them, would have been persuasive to nurses and midwives in addition to the specific proposals on recruitment.
However, in an overwhelming verdict nurses and midwives, by a margin of 94%, have rejected the proposals on the basis that they will not resolve the current and ongoing crisis which sees high reliance on agency and foreign recruitment in order to provide minimal staffing levels which nurses and midwives say are compromising safe patient care.
Reacting to the outcome of the vote INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said:
“It is not surprising that nurses and midwives have expressed their anger in such an overwhelming rejection of these proposals. These proposals would do nothing to address the short staffing and appalling working conditions they face every day."
"The clear message we have received from our members is that they feel abandoned and put upon by being forced to care for an increasing number of patients in poor and dangerous working conditions due to understaffing because of an inability to attract and retain nurses and midwives in our public health service."
"The HSE, this year, have failed to produce a funded workforce plan identifying the numbers of nurses they were prepared to recruit in the year 2018. There are over 1,100 vacant positions on a daily basis.”
Ms Ni Sheaghdha went on to say, “Clause 3 of the Public Service Pay Agreement had provided an opportunity to fully address the clear anomaly which sees nurses and midwives as the lowest paid professional grade in the public service, without knock-on claims from others and as a response to the recruitment and retention issues manifest to all.” She pointed out that government have not spoken directly with the organisation and said, “We now require direct dialogue with the government if a dispute is to be avoided.”
The Executive Council of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation will consider the issue of industrial action when they next meet on the 5th of November.
The President of the organisation Ms Martina Harkin-Kelly said:
“This overwhelming rejection of the proposals in respect of recruitment and retention sends a strong wake-up call to government who are sleepwalking into a serious industrial dispute if the recruitment and retention crisis is not taken seriously and addressed immediately.”