Government threats and inaction risk causing Strikes across Health Service – Jonathan O’Brien TD
Sinn Féin's deputy spokesperson for Public Expenditure & Reform Jonathan O’Brien TD has warned that the government is driving the health service towards an industrial relations crisis.
This comes as INMO and other nursing unions continue ballots for strike action, while hospital consultants with the IMO have threatened similar action in the New Year.
Speaking today the TD for Cork North-Central, Deputy O’Brien said:
“The threat of industrial action by both the nursing profession and consultants is the result of the government’s abject failure to address the retention and recruitment crisis in the health service, and tackle the pay inequality that persists throughout all levels of our vital public services.
“Over the weekend Minister Donohoe fired further threats to a stretched, strained and demoralised nursing profession that asks nothing more than renewed and critical engagement.
“Instead of critical engagement, the Minister threatened a series of pay cuts; including a freeze on salary increments and a deepening of the two tier pay structure.
“His response will only increase the likelihood of strike action. If this comes to pass then blame will lie solely with Government.
“The Minister and his government’s intransigence have now led to the possibility of a strike among consultants, given the continuation of a two tier pay structure that sees new consultants earn has much as €55,000 less than their colleagues.
“The Minister claims that addressing these issues would fall outside the Public Pay Agreement. But the Minister must reflect on the fact that conditions in acute areas of our public services are deteriorating.
“The starting salary of new consultants is significantly lower than their counterparts. To pretend that this has not contributed towards 500 consultant posts that cannot be filled will not solve the problem, but deepen it.
“The Minister, who now seems to firmly place the Department of Health under his own, neglects the troubles faced by nurses at the expense of a properly functioning health service. Without addressing the acute problems they face, all targets and any proposal under Sláintecare will become impossible.
“Patients need beds, doctors and nurses. And the beds cannot be serviced without the others. It is as simple as that.
“Previous public service agreements were broken by successive governments under the guise of crises and changing circumstances. It is reasonable then that this Government review the terms of reference of the Public Service Pay Commission, negotiate with the relevant unions directly, and take real action to resolve this recruitment and retention crisis.
“By standing against nurses and consultants, the Government is threatening the provision of healthcare.
“Instead of sounding threats and misrepresenting our nurses and doctors, the Minister should meet them and negotiate directly with their representatives.”