Nursing Strike is immediate response to Government policy of confrontation & mismanagement – Jonathan O’Brien TD
Sinn Féin's deputy spokesperson for Public Expenditure & Reform Jonathan O’Brien TD has responded to the INMO announced of scheduled 24 hour strikes on January 30 with further strikes to follow on 5, 7, 12, 13 and 14 February if no resolution is reached.
This comes as the INMO and other nursing unions voted overwhelmingly in favour of strike action after Government failure to address the recruitment and retention crisis.
Speaking after the announcement the TD for Cork North-Central, Deputy O’Brien said:
“Today’s announcement of strike action by the INMO, which represents 40,000 nurses and midwives, is an unfortunate but inevitable result of a lacklustre Government that has totally failed to address a recruitment and retention crisis.
“We have continually pressed the Government to engage directly with nurses, midwives and their representatives to find real solutions the problems and conditions they face. Instead, the Taoiseach and his ministers have decided to play tough to the public. This is not a game.
“We are now in a position where the HSE receives only 1 application for every 4 vacancies advertised, and where psychiatric nursing vacancies have increased by almost 40 percent.
“This has led to deterioration in the conditions of our hospitals and the morale of our nurses. It is also symptomatic of a recruitment and retention crisis that the government is now ignoring by throwing money at agency staff.
“Some of these agency nurses are paid as much as 20 percent more expensive than our own public sector nurses, illustrating the short-term thinking of this Government.
“The government claims that a stable nursing workforce would compromise budgetary policy, and have threatened nurses with a raft of cuts and pay freezes rather than engage directly with them.
“Government’s policy of confrontation only compromises our health services.
“We called on the Government to re-establish the Public Service Pay Commission with a new independent chair with a mandate to examine recruitment and retention issues objectively. They refused to do so.
“We called on the Government to bring forward full pay equality by the beginning of 2020 in a manner that was fully funded and would have benefited 10,000 of our nurses. Instead they decided to offer tax-breaks to landlords and bankers.
“We called on the Government to directly engage with our nurses, admit there was a recruitment and retention crisis and respond accordingly. Instead they have adopted a policy of confrontation in an attempt to undermine the hard work of our nurses and midwives, the backbone of our health service.
“Their approach is flawed and has led to this outcome. We call on them again to abandon confrontation and engage.”