Nurses seek incentives to avoid strikes

Nurses require financial incentives to avert strike action in a dispute over staffing, recruitment, and retention, their trade union has said.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has re-entered talks in a bid to address staff shortages and difficulties in both hiring and keeping nurses which, it says, is impacting on patient care.

Going in to negotiations with the HSE, the Department of Health, and the Department of Public Expenditure, INMO general secretary Liam Doran said financial incentives would have to be included if strike action is to be averted.

Some 90% of INMO members voted in favour of industrial action before Christmas, but strikes have been put on hold as talks with management continue.

Mr Doran said there are 3,500 fewer nurses than in 2008, yet the health service is now dealing with more patients and is 20% busier.

He called on the HSE to accept that more than 4,000 extra nurses and midwives are needed to help ease overcrowding and ensure a safe health service for patients.

Talks are expected to continue this week before the INMO executive meets again next Monday to decide whether it will press ahead with strike action or continue with the deferral to allow negotiations go on.

Meanwhile, Bus Éireann is expected to go to the Labour Court this week after unions refused to meet with the company today.

Bus Éireann, which could be insolvent within two years if it cannot drastically cut costs, had put forward a range of measures to staff representatives last week.

The company had promised annual pay rises of around 2% over four years if workers accepted the new measures, including cuts to allowances, premium payments, and temporary staff

The proposals were roundly rejected by unions.

Dermot O’Leary of the National Bus and Rail Union said all stakeholders — including the Government and the National Transport Authority — would have to come around the table before unions would be willing to engage in talks.

The Government maintains that it is an issue for management and unions as the massive losses relate to the company’s commercial Expressway routes.

Mr O’Leary also questioned whether Bus Éireann would be able to take the dispute to the Labour Court at this stage. “This is not a straightforward industrial dispute as far as we are concerned,” he said.

Bus Éireann is due to come before the Oireachtas joint committee on transport tomorrow.

Committee chair Brendan Griffin said it would be “useful” to hear from the company but that he is eager to also hear from the union and bus workers.

“We need to hear where the system is failing and we need to address that,” said Mr Griffin.

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