Nurses planning series of protests over cuts

Nurses will unveil plans for a series of protests and work stoppages in the coming weeks at a meeting tomorrow.

The campaign is aimed at reversing the government’s decision to cut the pay of fourth year student nurses and midwives. It will include the withdrawal of labour, lunchtime protests and sit-ins, as well as a protest march to the Department of Health and Children.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) have already referred the cut to the Labour Relations Commission (LRC) and said they would also initiate claims under the payment of wages and equality legislation.

Liam Doran, general secretary of the INMO, said the government’s move represented ‘‘a breach of the Croke Park deal’’ and of the information and consultation directive. He said a number of students had signed contracts in November that guaranteed them salaries of €18,000 for working in hospitals during their final year.

The INMO has already begun lobbying candidates in the forthcoming general election, seeking to establish whether they will support the reversal of the pay cuts. 

The INMO and PNA have also advised student members against signing any new contracts produced by the Health Service Executive or voluntary hospitals that seek agreement to the pay cut.

Until now, students received 80 per cent of a staff nurse salary during their nine-month placement on hospital wards. The Department of Health and Children decided to phase out this payment over the next four years and abolish it altogether in 2015.

By Susan Mitchell

Sunday Business Post – 30 January 2011

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