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éirígí adds support to nurses industrial action.

category dublin | worker & community struggles and protests | press release author Saturday April 14, 2007 05:06author by Cormac Ryan PRO éirígí Report this post to the editors

Nurses action is a result of the Government's neglect of public health system.

éirígí has added its support for the industrial action being taken by nursing staff across the 26 counties. The nurses, represented by the INO (Irish Nurses Organisation) and the PNA (Psychiatric Nurses Association), have taken the action to demand an increase in pay and a reduction in their working hours.

The crux of the nurses demands centres on a reduction in working hours to 35 per week and a 10.6% pay increase.
The issue of working hours is based on a Labour Court recommendation supporting the proposed reduction, which successive governments have ignored for 27 years. The demand for a 10.6% pay increase arises from several anomalies in the nurse’s pay scale. Annual incremental pay increases received by nurses, are so low that they are wiped out by inflation. In addition, individual cases of under-pay are rife; a theatre nurse, for example, is compensated a mere €40 for working a 24 hour shift.

While yesterday witnessed the first official work stoppages by the two unions, the issues that have led to the industrial action have been on the horizon for well over 12 months.
The INO began its pay increase campaign in March of 2006 and throughout that year incrementally built up the momentum; engaging with employer representatives, the Labour Court and holding support rallies.

On 2nd February 2007, the two unions served notice on the HSE (Health Service Executive) of intentions to begin industrial action within 21 days unless their claims were addressed in a substantial and meaningful way. The HSE ignored this window of opportunity and then refused to engage meaningfully. At the end of the time period, workers have begun to roll out their industrial action plan.

Commenting on the nurses demands and their ongoing industrial action, éirígí activist and INO member Suzie Murray stated ‘The demands by nurses for a reduction in working hours and an increase in pay are legitimate. Nurses form the backbone of the healthcare system, working a very difficult job within the under-funded health service. The Government and the HSE refuse to engage with nursing representatives in any meaningful manner on these issues, yet they had no problem increasing pay levels for senior management a mere 6 months ago.'

'There are broader issues in all of this of course; the desperate shortage of nurses and midwives, the lack of resources allocated to the public health system, the selling off of public hospital space to facilitate for-profit health companies. All of these Government enacted policies lead to the denigration of pay and conditions for nursing staff.
I would call for people across Ireland to show your support for Ireland's nurses by joining us on our picket lines, calling-in to chat-shows, and by lobbying local politicians in the run up to the general election’..

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