Nursing Strike Action is the inevitable consequence of Government mismanagement - Jonathan O'Brien TD
Sinn Féin’s deputy spokesperson for Public Expenditure & Reform, Jonathan O’Brien TD, has called on the government to begin direct engagements with the INMO and PNA in light of both unions voting overwhelmingly in favour of strike action over pay and conditions.
Speaking today, the Cork North-Central TD said:
“The decision over the past two days by the largest nursing and psychiatric nursing unions to vote in favour of industrial action in the New Year is the inevitable consequence of failed government policy.
“Since yesterday the Psychiatric Nurses’ Association and the Irish Nurses’ and Midwives’ Organisation each voted 95% in favour of industrial action in response to government intransigence and a failure to both recognise and respond to a retention and recruitment crisis that is debilitating hospital staff and harming patient care. The results are everywhere to be seen in our hospitals.
“Instead of critical engagement with the nursing profession, the Minister of Public Expenditure & Reform fired an opening salvo of threats; pay cuts, increment freezes and a deepening of the inequitable two-tier pay structure.
“Today, the Minister of Health has called for the matter to be referred to the Oversight Committee of the Public Service Stability Agreement.
“This muddled and disjointed approach to such a serious issue is symptomatic of a government that is steering our health service further into crisis.
“We have repeatedly called for the Government to engage directly with the nursing profession and begin again in their assessment of the recruitment and retention crisis in particular areas of our frontline services, while paying particular attention to the issue of pay.
“We have called on the government to appoint a new independent chair to the Public Service Pay Commission to begin this process.
“The government’s rehearsed response has been predictable, warning of the impact of pay measures on the public finances and Public Service Pay Agreement.
“In this regard it is worth noting that under this government, spending on nursing agency staff has increased since 2016, reaching €27 million last year, despite commitments to minimise the use of agency staff in the Agreement they now invoke and the strain it places upon the public finances.
“It is worth noting that this government rejected Sinn Féin proposals to achieve full pay equality for all nursing staff by the beginning of 2020, instead deciding with Fianna Fáil to maintain pay inequality to beyond 2025, paying lip service to a commitment made in the Agreement to examine and address the issue.
“Government has refused to address this issue and engage with our nurses in a constructive manner. It has consequently closed all options before the nursing profession beyond industrial action. The responsibility remains with the Government to resolve this impasse and put our health services on a safe and sustainable footing.”