Nursing contract talks referred to Labour Court

Nursing contract talks referred to Labour Court

Talks over a new contract for nurses and midwives have been referred to the Labour Court.

Unions and the government have been deadlocked in negotiations over new contracts that were to accompany a higher payscale.

The Labour Court will examine the disputed clauses of the new draft proposals.

The Government’s new contract and payscale emerged as a result of historic strike action taken by nurses all over the country in January and February, which saw thousands of men and women take to the picket line over safety concerns linked to a pay and staff retention crisis in the sector.

Trade unions have rejected the Government’s proposed new contract for nurses as not fit for purpose.

A statement from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said the proposals could potentially make the current issues worse.

“There is a very large gap between the INMO and the employers on the new contract. We do not believe that their current proposals would be acceptable to our members, nor do they fulfil the requirements of the Labour Court recommendation,” the statement said.

“This dispute arose over recruitment and retention problems.

“The employer’s proposed contract would only worsen such problems.”

Phil Ni Sheaghdha, INMO general secretary, said the group were disappointed in the Government’s attitude.

“We are deeply disappointed with the government’s attempt to stretch the limits set by the Labour Court in these contract talks.

“Government insistence on unreasonable contract terms would put nurses and midwives in some of the most insecure jobs in Ireland, allowing unilateral changes to work locations and hours. We will not allow this.

“The government’s contract proposals are unacceptable to us and would only worsen the recruitment and retention problems.

“We believe that the government’s proposed contract goes far beyond the Labour Court recommendation and will be making this case firmly to the Court on behalf of our members.

“Our constant focus is to improve conditions for our members and deliver safe patient care. We will continue to exhaust all avenues to achieve this aim.”

SIPTU Health Division confirmed that the talks on the Government’s proposed enhanced nursing and midwifery contracts concluded after three days without consensus on Sunday at the Workplace Relations Commission.

SIPTU Health Division organiser Paul Bell said government representatives did not waver on their position on the concerns raised by nursing unions.

“The Health Service Executive, the Department of Health and Department of Public Expenditure and Reform continued to maintain their position on fundamental issues concerning our members’ terms and conditions,” he said.

“These areas, include hours of work, rosters, redeployment, work location and assimilation to the new enhanced pay scale.

“SIPTU negotiators informed management, that their objectives in all of these key areas, fundamentally undermine the terms and conditions of nurses and midwives.

“They further, firmly and unequivocally rejected the proposed new contract as not fit for purpose.”

He added that SIPTU representatives confirmed that any management proposals aimed at deteriorating the terms and conditions of nurses and midwives will be firmly resisted by the National Nursing and Midwifery Sector Committee.

The employer’s proposed contract would only worsen such problems

Balloting had been due to start today for INMO members, but the Executive Council have decided to postpone the start of balloting by two weeks, after they decided that members would not be balloted without a satisfactory contract.

The government have also indicated to the INMO that they will attend the Labour Court.

A spokeswoman from the Department of Health said the Government was willing to hold further talks with unions.

“Health service management remains available for further discussion with nursing unions,” she said.

“Management is committed to upholding the recommendation issued by the Labour Court and accepted by the Government, and to meeting the reforms laid out in Slaintecare.”

- Press Association


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