Nurses enter roundtable talks in bid to avert looming one-day stoppages

Nurses are to meet with the Department of Health and the HSE today in a bid to avert planned strike action.

One-day stoppages are set to go ahead after 90% of the membership of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) voted in favour of industrial action.

The action, which is likely to start before the end of the month would also include work-to-rule measures.

INMO general secretary Liam Doran said: “After the ballot we called for round table talks and they have been arranged.

“Our view is that there is a real problem in staffing, recruitment and retention, we will be looking for a response from the department and the HSE and if they recognise that there is a real problem, what are they going do?”

He said the INMO executive council would be meeting early next week and would make a decision about when the industrial action would begin, but he said setting this date would be “heavily influenced” by today’s meeting.

Nurses would refuse to work beyond their rostered hours and they would not agree to be redeployed from one ward to another during their shift as part of the industrial action.

The dispute centres around demands from nurses to address the staffing, recruitment and retention crisis facing nursing and midwifery at this time as well as working conditions.

Nurses are frustrated at what they believe are excessive unpaid working hours, as well as chronic and persistent overcrowding. They claim there have been repeated episodes of missed care as a result of inadequate staffing levels.

Mr Doran said: “These discussions are in the context of the recent result of our national ballot which confirmed 90% of INMO members were supportive of industrial action, if necessary, in pursuance of special initiatives to address the current crisis.”

Separately, Public Expenditure Minister Paschal Donohoe is continuing his discussions with public sector unions to address anomalies in the Lansdowne Road Agreement. The public services committee of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) went into discussions with him in December after gardaí accepted a €50m pay deal.

The Labour Court recommendation, which was accepted by gardaí, saw members of the force receive around €3,000 extra from this month. But the Government would face an additional bill of €250m if they granted nurses and other medical staff the same deal.

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