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Government intransigence is cause of threatened nursing strike action – Jonathan O’Brien TD

19 November, 2018 - by Jonathan O'Brien TD

Sinn Féin's deputy spokesperson for Public Expenditure & Reform Jonathan O’Brien TD has blamed the Government for pushing the nursing profession into a corner and threatening the delivery of vital health services.

This comes as the INMO and other nursing unions begin ballots for strike action over the recruitment and retention crisis that afflicts the profession.

Speaking today the TD for Cork North-Central, Deputy O’Brien said:

“The threat of industrial action by the nursing profession is the inevitable consequence of a Government that has been both misguided and duplicitous in its approach towards the retention and recruitment crisis in the health service, and among nursing staff in particular.

“The recent threats fired by the Minister towards the nursing profession will do nothing to solve the problem or lessen the likelihood of strike action in the coming months.

“In his response and its reporting by media, the Minister claimed that the government’s proposals would solve the problem. The truth is very different.

“The work of the Public Service Pay Commission was flawed from its inception. Its most recent report admitted this, when it recorded that it was under firm instruction by the Minister to sideline pay issues. Starting from the premise that pay was not an issue, the Commission came to the conclusion that pay was not an issue.

“The fact remains that in 2017 nursing staff levels were lower than 2011. Given an ageing and growing population, this poses a serious threat to the delivery of health care to the sick, our own family members.

“The Minister has claimed that the pay demands of the nurses would compromise budgetary policy. This is two days after he and his on leader promised a €3 billion tax cut bonanza for the rich. 

“Decent pay for nurses does not compromise budgetary policy; it only compromises Fine Gael’s interests. The Minister should be called out.

“The Minister has claimed that he has offered nurses generous pay increases through measures such as pay equality. In reality, the Government’s own proposal would only see pay equality by 2026; an insulting offer.

“We have continuously asked that the Minister deals with the recruitment and retention issues in our health service with the seriousness and maturity it deserves. He has failed to do so.

“We have offered solutions, new approaches towards the Public Sector Pay Commission. He has ignored all such recommendations.

“The Minister and his Government now want to turn the public against the frontline staff who care for the sick and vulnerable in our society in conditions he couldn’t stomach. And for much less than the salary he gives himself.

“The Irish people value the dedication and service of our nurses. This Government does not.”

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