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industrial unrest

Day three of nurses' strike: INMO denies that pay increases would lead to public sector 'free-for-all'

Three more strikes are due to take place next Tuesday Wednesday and Thursday.

Updated at 11.04am


TODAY MARKS THE third day of industrial action taken by nurses and midwives over a dispute about pay and working conditions.

Thousands of patient procedures have been postponed due to the strikes. It’s estimated that 37,000 nurses and midwives are on strike; there are three further days of strike action planned for next Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

These will include mental health appointments, as psychiatric nurses and their ambulance staff have also announced that they will join the strike action next Friday. 

This is over the government’s refusal to recognise their union, Nasra. 

Speaking on RTÉ’s Today with Sean O’Rourke, Deputy General Secretary of the INMO David Hughes defended claims that the public sector agreement was a sealed agreement, and that opening it to raise nurses’ pay would “open up the door for a pay free-for-all”, as claimed by Sunday Times columnist Cormac Lucey.

“If Clause 3 in the Public Sector Pay Agreement had that been properly honoured we wouldn’t be in this strike situation,” Hughes said. “It said that if anything is done to solve recruitment and retention issue, there will be no sectoral claims.”

He added that Clause 4 of the Agreement concerned new entrants, and said that they would be valued and their pay dealt with after the agreement, but that it was “now being solved within the agreement”.

The Department of Expenditure and Public Reform (DEPR) said that it would solve the issue, which it hasn’t.

Out on the picket line at the Coombe maternity hospital on Dublin’s southside, the nurses were receiving the usual high-level of support from the public they have experienced on previous days of strikes – mainly expressed through near-constant beeping from passing motorists.

Nurses are eager to stress that the continuing strike action isn’t an easy move to take, and that anyone arriving at the Coombe today will receive the care they need.

“Desperate times call for desperate measures,” Nicole Mention, currently working as a midwife stenographer, told

Sequence 010 Nicky Ryan / Nicky Ryan / /

“We really are worried about the state of the health service,” she added, explaining that the “neglect that has gone on for years and years” needs to stop.

It’s not about pay, it’s about safe care. It’s about the care that people deserve.

This was echoed by Laura McGovern, an oncology liaison nurse at the Coombe:

“We have horrific staffing levels in Ireland at the moment. We can’t retain any nurses – every young nurse is just on the plane, they’re gone, straight away.”

McGovern said that with better staffing levels, better care could be given to patients, and the difficult in doing this right now takes a toll on nurses themselves:

You can’t go home and feel that you’ve done your job well.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Communications Minister Richard Bruton said the government believes engagement is needed and that the Workplace Relations Commission and Labour Court could be useful.

Asked whether the government is prepared to discuss pay increases with the nurses, he said this would only be possible as part of a wider discussion on public sector pay.

“The only precondition that the Taoiseach has set out is that he wants the solution to this to be fair, to be affordable to the taxpayer and not to have a greater knock-on impact on 400,000 other public servants who need to be treated fairly,” he said.

We are prepared to talk about pay in the context of an agreement that is collectively negotiated and those agreements bind everyone. I’m not going to start negotiating on the airwaves because I can’t do that. What we need to do here is get into a room with both sides so.

A recent Claire Byrne Live/ poll found that 74% of respondents said they supported the nurses’ action.

With reporting from Daragh Brophy, Rónán Duffy, and Nicky Ryan

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