Graduate nurses face sub-standard pay

Graduate nurses are facing sub-standard pay rates for the first two years of their careers as part of a deal to secure other rights for the health sector.

The agreement has been put forward by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and the Irish Medical Organisation (IMO) after intensive Croke Park II talks.

The decision to accept 85% and 90% of staff nurse pay for graduates in their first two years of work has been described as the best deal the INMO could get in the current financial climate.

However, given that the union has previously insisted on full pay for newcomers, it remains to be seen how the next generation of nurses will see the deal.

Among the other health- related points agreed are the restoration of Sunday premium pay for nurses, meaning they will now be paid double time for the shift.

For doctors, the IMO has welcomed the news that new entrant consultants — who have already suffered a 30% pay cut — will avoid cuts to salaries over €65,000.

In addition, overtime payments will continue to operate at double time on Sundays and public holidays and time-and-a- half for those earning under €35,000 and time- and-a-quarter for those earning over €35,000.

The deals are part of proposals which will now be put to the members of medical unions which have helped to negotiate the changes. These unions have previously made it clear they would not sign up to earlier versions of the agreement, which they claim would have put an impossible burden on their finances.

INMO general secretary, Liam Doran, said the new deal is the best on offer for medics both in the short and long term. He said a rejection of the plans would be tantamount to seeing a far less positive deal imposed on them.

“We were told if you don’t accept this then we’re going to legislate for very draconian measures. So it is a very black and white situation,” he said.

IMO industrial relations director, Steve Tweed, said the union is satisfied it has secured significant improvements compared to previous versions of the deal. “We’re not happy with everything we have secured but we are happy that we have secured a much better set of proposals than were on offer two months ago,” he said.

The IMO’s national council will discuss the issue further on Thursday, Mr Tweed said.

Health sector deal

* Overtime payments will continue to operate at double time on Sundays and public holidays, and at time-and-a-half for those earning under €35,000, and time and a quarter for those on over €35,000.

* New entrant consultants, who have already seen a 30% cut in remuneration in compared to established consultants, will be exempt from the cut in pay targeted at staff earning over €65,000. Outside of this group, there will be pay cuts ranging from 5.5% to 8% for those earning over €65,000.

* Newly-graduated nurses will receive 85% of current pay in their first year of work, 90% in their second, and full pay in subsequent years.

* Nurses have been asked to accept a longer, 39-hour week.

* Nurses will see the return of double time on Sundays and public holidays. Its removal, the INMO said, was effectively a “permanent pay cut to over 7.75%”.

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