Nurses announce two extra strike dates to five already planned

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has announced two additional strike dates.

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

The decision was made at a meeting on Saturday, amid an ongoing row between the INMO and the Government about pay and staff retention issues.

On social media the INMO wrote: “Our Executive Council is meeting now to discuss further strike dates in addition to those already announced.

“Sadly, the government has made no proposals to resolve this dispute. Nurses and midwives are united and in this for the long haul if necessary.”

The number of services on strike will rise from 82 to 240.

The INMO will also be organising a national rally on Saturday February 9.

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 to fund pay increases.

INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said: “Nurses and midwives proudly stood up in defence of our patients and professions last Wednesday, but the government has responded with threats and intransigence.

“Everybody – except the government – recognise that there is a serious understaffing problem in our health services. The public support for the strike on Wednesday showed that the Irish people stand with nurses and midwives.

Our message is clear. We will not be going away – resolving this dispute requires direct engagement from the government, recognising the real recruitment and retention problems in Irish nursing and midwifery.

“We simply want to be able to do our jobs, but our health service cannot hire enough nurses and midwives on these uncompetitive wages.

“As ever, we remain available for talks with the government for any realistic proposals.”

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.”

The Government has come under intense scrutiny from rival parties across the political spectrum for its inability to halt the strike action.- Press Association

INMO council to meet to discuss possibility of further strikes

The INMO Executive Council will meet today to discuss further industrial action on top of the five days already announced.

Industrial action is planned for Tuesday and Thursday next week (February 5 and7), and for three days the following week (February 12, 13 and 14).

37,000 nurses staged their first 24-hour strike on Wednesday leading to thousands of appointments being cancelled.

The union says the government has not made any "serious proposals" to avert more strikes and say they have been forced into this position.

The INMO says it will plan for further action if it does not get government support.

Director of Regulation and Social Policy Edward Matthews says he hopes it does not come to that.

"At the moment, we're concentrating on making the voice of nurses and midwives heard, we want to make sure the dispute is safe but is effective, and we'll consider options after that as is necessary," he said.

But none of that should be necessary, the government should intervene to ensure the clear case being made by nurses and midwives is addressed in a fair and reasonable way within the confines of the national agreement which exists.

Meanwhile, 6,000 members of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) have implemented an overtime ban.

Following yesterday's industrial action, PNA members are set to hold further action next week on February 5, 6 and 7, as well planning to escalate this to a three-day strike on the same days as the INMO.

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