Irish nurses abroad say government disrespects profession

Irish nurses working abroad say the government does not respect the workforce, and gives emigrants no reason to come home.

Yesterday, The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) announced two additional strike dates amid an ongoing row over pay and staffing retention issues.

The strikes will take place on February 19 and 21, in addition to action on February 5 and 7, and February 12-14.

Anna Enright has lived and worked as a nurse in Melbourne

Anna Enright, from Tralee, Co Kerry, has lived and worked as a nurse in Melbourne, Australia, for five years.

“When I first started I worked in hospitals in the midlands on three-month contracts for €13.60 an hour,” she said.

“We were worked to the bone in unsafe conditions because of chronic understaffing.

“There was no support, no room for job growth, not to mention the salary.

“There are amazing nurses in Ireland, they work so hard considering what they’re put through.

“I’m very angry over it, I’ve been speaking to the girls at home who are striking, my heart breaks for them.

“I honestly feel bad, and kind of guilty at how good we have it over here, we make money that allows us to have a great lifestyle, we enjoy work, are so supported to grow in our field.

“Nursing is highly respected over here, whereas I feel in Ireland it never will be, to be honest I can’t see a change happening, the Government don’t respect nursing as a profession to increase our pay, it’s not that we are greedy for money, we need to be able to live.”

More than 30,000 nurses took to picket lines in freezing conditions outside hospitals across the country last week after talks aimed at resolving the issue failed.

Nurses are calling for a pay increase of about 12%, but the Government has said it is not in the position to borrow money.

The Minister for Finance, Paschal Donohoe, said: “The nursing unions are seeking a significant increase in pay over and above all of the benefits of the current Agreement seeking parity with other health professionals.

“Concession of this pay claim, even if possible, would have serious consequences for the public finances and for public pay policy generally with estimated costs of 300 million euro annually based on a 12% claim in pay.

“However, it would not end there. It would, I have no doubt, generate knock-on or ‘leapfrogging’ claims from the rest of the public service workforce, where there are already other well aired pay grievances.”

Last week, protests were organised in Melbourne, Sydney and London by Irish nurses to show their solidarity with their colleagues at home.

- Press Association

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