STARTING on Wednesday next, January 30th, members of the Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (INMO), joined by colleagues from Psychiatric Nurses Association of Ireland (PNA), will embark on a series of work stoppages in their pursuit of a 12% pay claim, which would strike most workers – even many in the public sector – as excessive. However, the INMO, in particular, is adamant that nurses should have pay parity with the likes of radiographers.
Given that nurses are the fulcrum of hospital care, having them on strike next Wednesday, and possibly on five other days in February, is going to cause huge disruption to the health service, which already has enough problems. The work stoppages come at a time when the service is under greater pressure than usual with swine flu and other ailments taking hold as the winter weather belatedly sets in.
Minister for Finance & Public Expenditure Paschal Donohue has already ruled out a 12% pay increase because of the risk of knock-on claims by other public servants and he regards their demand as ‘too much.’ The nurses have the goodwill of the public on their side, but common sense and reality must prevail in the negotiations.