Striking nurses are back on the picket lines

Striking nurses are back on the picket lines
A group taking part in the INMO strike outside the Mercy University Hospital, Cork.Picture Denis Minihane.

HUNDREDS of Cork nurses have returned to picket lines in an escalation of the bitter industrial dispute that has resulted in the cancellation of medical appointments for 50,000 patients today.

Management at six Cork hospitals have advised that today’s strike will cause widespread disruption.

Routine community nursing services and health centre nurse clinics are cancelled, while day centres for older people or people with disabilities are closed.

All planned admissions to public community nursing units and specified centres for people with intellectual disabilities are also cancelled.

Minister for Health Simon Harris, along with Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe last night said they were disappointed that the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation action would go ahead today and on Thursday.

The Ministers said they are “willing to engage in talks on the range of workplace related issues other than pay to try to resolve the dispute”.

The INMO have described this as spin, claiming the government are yet to enter any meaningful talks.

“This is spin masquerading as substance,” said INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha.

“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,” she added.

“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.” 

Ms Ni Sheaghdha said that the INMO has 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 within nursing and midwifery, but that the government refuse to listen to the union.

Speaking to the Echo outside Cork hospitals last week, nurses and midwives pledged to engage in industrial action until their concerns were addressed.

Hundreds took to Cork streets last week highlighting pay disparity and poor working conditions in the sector.

The INMO have organised further strike action for Thursday and three days next week unless government intervene.

Minister Harris last week confirmed officials from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform will “legally consider” imposing penalties for industrial action.

“Minister Harris has done himself no favours with these comments, if anything, people are even more riled up,” said Cork nurse Margaret Frahill, who is on the executive council of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation.

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