Update: Nurses' strike to go ahead after 'Govt fails to make any proposals'

Update: The INMO’s second day of strike action begins tomorrow at 8am saying they have received "no proposal" to resolve the issue.

INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said: “This is spin masquerading as substance. Government by press release is unfair and confusing to patients and insulting to nurses and midwives on the picket lines.

“Recycling broken promises is no way to build good-faith negotiations. The government’s press release refers to non-pay issues which are already agreed since 2017.

“The INMO previously referred the Government to the Workplace Relations Commission to try and find a solution to this dispute, but the Government failed to engage or make any proposals. Talks at the Labour Court sadly produced similar results.

“We have identified excessive costs and wastage in the HSE, which could be used to address the pay issues at the heart of the recruitment and retention crisis. But the government simply will not listen.”

    Costs identified by the INMO which would be cut if more nurses and midwives could be attracted to work in the public health service include:

  • over €100m spent in 2018 on agency nurses, used to fill gaps left by vacant posts;
  • €10,000 - €20,000 spent per nurse or midwife recruited by overseas agencies;
  • reduced durations of stay for patients associated with safer staffing levels.

The INMO said that none of these savings are included in the Government’s €300m cost estimate, which would automatically be reduced by 30%-40% due to income taxes.

Earlier: INMO head calls Govt invite to new talks 'one of the most cynical moves I've seen in a long time'

INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha has responded to the Government inviting unions to new talks on "issues other than pay", saying it is "massively disrespectful".

Ms Ní Sheaghdha told Mary Wilson on this evening's Drivetime on RTE Radio One: "I consider this one of the most cynical moves I've seen in a long time and I've been involved in industrial relations for over 20 years.

"I think this is massively disrespectful to nurses and midwives and to the patients'.

Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe said they are willing to engage in talks "on the range of workplace-related issues other than pay to try to resolve the dispute".

More than 30,000 members of the INMO will take to the picket lines again tomorrow and Thursday, when further services will be brought into the strike.

The HSE has said 55,000 patients and clients will be affected by the strike action by nurses this week.

13,000 outpatient appointments and 2,000 planned surgeries are cancelled for each day of industrial action. Local injury units will be closed, as will day centres and day hospitals for older people and people with disabilities.

Some mental health day centres may close for the rest of the week.

When asked whether the nursing unions should accept talks without scope to engage on pay, Ms Ní Sheaghdha said: "We've been there, we've done that."

She added today's proposals were those agreements, which had not been kept, now "recycled and dressed up as something new".

She said the nub of the issue, which is pay, was being ignored.

On escalating the action, Ms Ní Sheaghdha told Drivetime that the INMO referred the matter to the WRC before the dispute started.

The INMO announced two additional strike dates at the weekend — February 19 and 21, in addition to February 5 and 7, and February 12, 13 and 14.

The number of services affected has been increased from 80 to 240, with respite services in intellectual disability and care of the elderly now included.

She said: "I genuinely think that the public know that we will do anything to resolve this dispute once we know the other side are genuine.

"What happened today was an attempt to spin, to protect the political system."

More on this topic

Three in five nurses vote to accept Labour Court proposals

Majority of nurses see contract as ‘good deal’

INMO recommends that members vote for Labour Court proposals

INMO warns nurses' strike has only been suspended, not called off

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