Union asks members to approve pay deal

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) is recommending that its members accept a pay deal aimed at preventing further strikes.

The decision was announced by the INMO last night following a meeting of the union’s executive council and strike committees.

Balloting of the union’s 40,000 members will take place between March 11 and 25, with the count on March 26.

The INMO held three 24-hour strikes this month but a consecutive three-day strike this week was suspended when the court intervened.

The court considered there were “exceptional circumstances” to warrant it investigating the dispute over pay and staff recruitment and retention.

INMO general secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, said the proposals were not the end-point — they showed the way for all grades in nursing and midwifery to get to fair pay levels.

The executive and INMO management is recommending that members vote to accept the proposals, subject to the new contract, which will be negotiated over the coming weeks.

Ms Ní Sheaghdha said they took the time to present the deal to hundreds of members today and “we’re glad to note a positive reception”.

However, some members of the INMO took to the airways and social media this week to express their anger at the terms.

In a bid to clarify matters, the INMO produced a briefing yesterday entitled The Deal at a Glance.

Addressing the issue of pay parity, it points out that the new grade combined with the location/qualification allowance gave a higher gross pay than allied health professionals at almost every point of the scale.

As part of the rollout of a series of productivity measures, there is an enhanced nurse practice eight-point pay scale from €35,806 to €45,841.

New entrants move up the scale after 16 weeks, skip the second point and go straight to the third — €32,171. 

Those who qualify for a location allowance of €2,230 will increase their annual pay to €34,401, an 11% increase.

After a year nurses will move to the new enhanced nurse practice scale and, together with the allowance, can expect to be paid a total of €38,036, an 18% increase on the €32,171 currently paid to nurses.

The annual cost of the deal is €35m, but it also contains a range of productivity measures.

Various reductions in spending on agency staff in nursing and midwifery are also expected.

The new productivity measures will apply to all nurses on the enhanced scale and the initiative will be paused if the savings are not delivered.

The court has recommended that an expert review of the nursing profession should be completed during the lifetime of the Public Service Stability Agreement, which runs until next year.

The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) suspended its strike action on Monday after the Labour Court intervened in their dispute over recruitment and retention.

The PNA agreed to suspend strike action on the basis that there would be intensive engagement between the parties before a full Labour Court hearing tomorrow.

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