Government response to nurses' strike has the 'hallmarks of Margaret Thatcher'

Government response to nurses' strike has the 'hallmarks of Margaret Thatcher'
A group of nurses taking part in the nurses strike at Cork University Maternity Hospital this weekPicture: David Keane.

SINN Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has called the government “Thatcherite” after Tánaiste Simon Coveney said that sanctions are being considered for nurses seeking better pay and conditions.

Mr Coveney said that the government wants to engage with nurses to avoid further industrial action following Wednesday’s strike, but said that the government is looking at what options are available if actions continue, including sanctions.

“Threatening sanctions and docking wages is lashing out against their right to strike itself. It is a Thatcherite response,” said Mr Ó Laoghaire. 

“It is a disgraceful way to treat nurses, they should be figuring out how to resolve this strike, not figuring out how to punish nurses.

“It is scandalous that the Tánaiste and the Government are now considering sanctions, potentially including docking pay, against the nurses, simply because they are standing up for their rights,” he said. 

He added that the nurses would not be striking if they did not feel there was no other choice.

“The highest ever turnout in the history of their union and a 95% vote in favour of industrial action is clear evidence of that. To now be talking about responding to nurses taking a stand and saying enough is enough, is appalling.

“We clearly have a recruitment and retention problem and that affects not only nurses but society as a whole,” he said.

He said that better pay is needed to recruit and retain nurses who are tempted by better jobs overseas.

“The entire system cannot function without nurses. But if we want to stop them going to Australia, the middle east and Britain in search of a better life, then we need to ensure they get fairly paid and get respect here.”

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