Latest: Nurses call off strike action; Labour Court recommendations include 'significant changes to salary scale'

General Secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha from the INMO attending the discussions. Photo: Leah Farrell/RollingNews.ie

Update 8pm The Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) has suspended its planned industrial action, following a Labour Court hearing this evening.

The Board of the PNA says it has agreed to call off its planned strike on the basis that intensive engagement will commence between all parties in the next three days, prior to a full Labour Court hearing on Friday.

Update 6.23pmTomorrow's nurses' strike has been suspended while the INMO considers the Labour Court's recommendations.

Services will resume as normal in hospitals across the country.

40,000 nurses and midwives were due to stage three days of industrial action in their dispute over pay and working conditions.

Media reports state the Labour Court recommended thousands of nurses be able to move to an enhanced pay-scale, offering salaries of €35,806 upwards.

The INMO says the Labour Court recommendation makes progress across all areas of concern, including the key areas of safe staffing and addressing recruitment and retention problems.

    Among other proposals, it includes:

  • guaranteed multi-annual funding to maintain safe staffing levels;
  • significant changes to salary scale and allowances;
  • increased education and training opportunities;
  • separately, an expert group to examine, in a short period of time, remaining pay and reform issues including those affecting senior management grades.

“After over thirty hours of negotiations at the Labour Court, the Executive Council have agreed that sufficient progress has been made to suspend strikes and consider the Labour Court’s recommendations," said INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha

“There is still more negotiation to be done, but we are at a point where we believe strikes can be suspended. Members will be kept fully informed and will have the final say in a ballot.

“Safe staffing along with recruitment and retention were key concerns for us, and we have made progress on both.

“We are immensely grateful for our determined nurse and midwife members, who are standing up for our patients and our professions. They have at all times worked to ensure patient safety during this dispute.”

In a statement, the INMO said the Labour Court recommendation will be put to a ballot in the coming days.

The INMO's elected Executive Council have just received the recommendation by the Labour Court. They have suspended the upcoming strikes at the request of the Court to consider the wide-ranging recommendations.

"Members will receive more information on the proposals in the coming days and the recommendation will be put to a ballot.

"In the meantime, we’d ask you to stay united and support your colleagues.

"The only reliable source of information on these proposals is the INMO, so please pay attention to official communications."

The HSE has issued a statement following the suspension of strike action, saying it welcomes the decision.

With nurses expected to fully attend work tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday, the HSE says it will endeavour to do everything it can to restore normal services but accepts this may not be possible in all areas.

Outpatient appointments are set to go ahead as planned with people with an appointment for tomorrow, Wednesday and Thursday advised to attend as scheduled.

Surgical patients it says will be contacted by their hospital if their procedure is going ahead.

Health Minister Simon Harris described the development as "welcome news for patients all over the country."

He said it has been "difficult weeks" for nurses and midwives "who did not make the decision to strike lightly".

"I now look forward to the health service resuming its normal work and doing all that it can now to catch up on what has been the lost time of the last number of days," he added.

Meanwhile, the Psychiatric Nurses Association, which is also due to strike tomorrow, has been called to the Labour Court to hear its recommendation.

Speaking on his way into the hearing, General Secretary Peter Hughes says he hopes it is positive.

"We're here just to see what's on the table to be discussed and we don't know more at this stage," he said.

"We got an invitation to come in and meet the chair of the court and we're coming in to meet.

"We've always said we're looking for positive engagement so hopefully there will be some positive engagements."

Earlier: Labour Court recommendation on nurses' strike due 'shortly'

Update 5.10pm by Evelyn Ring: The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation says the Labour Court will make a recommendation "shortly".

The INMO's elected Executive Council, made up of frontline nurses and midwives, will meet early this evening to discuss the recommendation.

Update 2.40pm by Evelyn Ring: The Labour Court has decided to intervene in the nurses' strike.

The parties have been called to a formal hearing this afternoon and there could be a recommendation later this evening.

The formal intervention could mean a suspension of this week's three-day back to back strike action by nurses.

Members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation and the Psychiatric Nurses Association will stage strikes on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

The HSE has warned of the serious risk to patient safety if the strikes went ahead this week.

There is already of the backlog of around 40,000 patients whose hospital appointments were cancelled during the previous three days of strikes.

The PNA has previously put in place an overtime ban as part of its campaign of industrial action.

The HSE is monitoring the Labour Court and said patients would be contacted if there was any suspension of strike action.

Labour Court to decide today on nurses' strike intervention

Update 6.40am: The Labour Court will decide later if it can intervene in the ongoing pay dispute between nurses and the government.

Talks aimed at averting industrial action ended just after 3am this morning following 15 hours of negotiations.

Nursing unions and the government side spent around 35 hours this weekend briefing the Labour Court.

They arrived for talks at 12.30pm yesterday and emerged at 3am this morning.

The Labour court will now decide if there is common ground between both sides for it to intervene.

Nurses want a 12% pay rise but the government says that is not feasible and would cost an extra €300 million a year.

Speaking on his way out of the talks, Labour Court chairman, Kevin Foley, says both sides have fully briefed the court.

"I will make a decision tomorrow morning - middle of the morning or so - as to whether we will intervene or not," said Mr Foley.

Three days of strikes by members of the INMO and PNA unions are due to begin tomorrow, which could create chaos in the health service.

"At the moment it's going ahead, in the absence of any proposals it will be going ahead on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday," said Phil Ní Sheaghdha, General Secretary of the INMO.

Either way a decision on whether the strikes will go ahead will be known later.

More on this topic

Majority of nurses see contract as ‘good deal’

INMO recommends that members vote for Labour Court proposals

INMO warns nurses' strike has only been suspended, not called off

Nurses' dispute returns to Labour Court after talks break down

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