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Nurses and all low paid workers must get support they deserve – Morgan

16 January, 2008

Sinn Féin TD and spokesperson for Workers' Rights Arthur Morgan TD said today that the decision of two main nurses' unions, the Irish Nurses Organisation and the Psychiatric Nurses Association, to return to the labour court to address pay concerns, must be supported. Morgan said the recent benchmarking report on public service pay has failed lower paid workers who had been led to believe their legitimate grievances would be addressed through the process.

Morgan said, "Sinn Féin was the only political party last year to support the nurses' strike. We believed their demands were fair and that they, like all low paid public sector workers, had been abandoned in the benchmarking process. The announcement today, and the announcement of the Civil, Public and Services Union yesterday, of its intentions to ballot its 12,000 members in the Civil Service on proposals to seek a fundamental review of the system, were to be expected and must be supported.

"The fatal flaw of the benchmarking process, as we are now seeing, is that income disparities in the private sector are being applied to the public sector with those on low pay getting little or nothing while those on high wages benefit from increases. That income disparity is especially obvious in the health sector. Last week we were told that the Chief Executive of the VHI will be paid €650,000 a year to manage a private health insurance company - yet the nurses in the public sector, who routinely attend to private insurance patients, are among the lowest paid workers in the state.

"Improving the incomes of low paid workers in the public and private sectors must be at the top of the next round of pay talks. Demands for wage restraint should be targeted at those who already earn multiples of the average industrial wage." ENDS

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