The majority view of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation strike committees is that the new nurses’ contract “is a good deal”.
That is according to INMO secretary general Phil Ní Sheaghdha who spent yesterday briefing members of the committees on details of the proposals.
“There was mixed feedback but the majority view is that it’s a good deal for nurses,” said Ms Ní Sheaghdha.
Many nurses took to social media to roundly reject the terms, with a number of them saying that further strikes are warranted.
Ms Ní Sheaghdha said the union intends to have the result of a ballot of its 38,000 members by the first week in May. The ballot begins on Monday.
The union is recommending acceptance of a Labour Court ruling designed to resolve a dispute over pay and staffing issues which resulted in nurses engaging in three days of strike action earlier this year.
One of the many hundreds of comments posted on the INMO’s Facebook page by members criticising the proposals included one which read: “As an intern nurse, we are left compromised with extra heavy workloads, a greater patient caseload than we can cope with, and ethical issues that we should never have to face.
“These proposals do nothing for us, and make the future of our careers look very bleak. They’re practically flying us out of the country themselves. As one of a few intern nurses left in my hospital, none of us will be staying on as staff. They’ll have no nurses left.”
The INMO told members that the recommendations, among other things:
- Removes proposals for four-, six-, and eight-hour shifts
- Removes proposals for changes in workplace locations mid-shift — no change to current arrangements
- Rules out proposals for “split shifts” where shifts would be divided across the day
- Guarantees that new nurses and midwives can reach the higher “enhanced practice” salary scale after one year and 16 weeks
It said the deal members would be voting on would see a new enhanced practice salary scale whereby staff nurses and midwives earn up to €2,439 more each year in their career; and €5m in funding for safe staffing levels in 2019, with extra funding in 2020 and 2021.
It reminded members there would be increases in allowances, including a 20% increase in location and qualification allowances, by €372 to €2,230, and by €559 to €3,350, respectively, and speedier pay increases for new nurses and midwives, who will skip the second increment.
Ms Ní Sheaghdha said savings to pay for the proposed pay improvements would come from rollout of a staffing framework she said has been successfully piloted in three hospitals.
The Safe Staffing Framework sets nurse and midwife staffing levels by evidence-based patient needs. If implemented, it “should bring about a situation where nurses stay”, said Ms Ní Sheaghdha, in reference to ongoing retention problems.
It would also lead to savings in use of agency staff; down by 95% in the pilot hospitals, while patient mortality would reduce by 50%.