Nurses call for special overtime allowance to be reinstated

Nurses at Cork University Hospital (CUH) and the Mercy University Hospital (MUH) have appealed to their employers to reinstate a special overtime arrangement introduced earlier in the year to address the trolley crisis, but which ended last week.
Nurses call for special overtime allowance to be reinstated
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said it has asked the South South-West Hospital Group (SSWHG) to extend the previous overtime arrangement

Nurses at Cork University Hospital (CUH) and the Mercy University Hospital (MUH) have appealed to their employers to reinstate a special overtime arrangement introduced earlier in the year to address the trolley crisis, but which ended last week.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) said it has asked the South South-West Hospital Group (SSWHG) to extend the arrangement “given the exceptional circumstances we are now in”.

“We sought for it to be extended given the exceptional work nurses are doing on the frontline during the current crisis and the amount of goodwill they have shown,” said INMO industrial relations officer Liam Conway.

“However they (SSWHG) have refused.”

A spokesperson for the SSWGH said: “A Winter Initiative arrangement was put in place and the date of cessation of same was 31.03.20”.

The spokesperson said discussions in relation to pay and conditions during Covid-19 “are being managed via national discussion.”

Under the arrangement that expired on March 31, part-time nurses who worked above their standard contract hours were paid overtime without having to work up to 39 hours.

Prior to the agreement, introduced in the first week of January, a flat rate had applied up to 39 hours.

The agreement with the SSWHG was part of the Winter Initiative designed to tackle the trolley crisis.

Mr Conway said the arrangement was designed to encourage part-time nurses in CUH and MUH, where the trolley crisis was particularly acute, to work longer hours.

He said many nurses and midwives are part-time as they have families and childcare commitments.

The INMO is reporting difficulties for members trying to source and pay for alternative childcare following the closure of creches.

It has called on the HSE to cover any additional childcare costs to allow its members to continue to work.

In Limerick, where nurses and midwives at University Hospital Limerick (UHL) had also benefited from the overtime arrangement under the Winter Initiative, albeit it expired in February in their case, are still awaiting payments agreed with government following last year’s nurses’ strike.

INMO industrial relations officer Mary Fogarty said nurses and midwives in the UL hospital group - which also includes Ennis, Nenagh, Croom and the maternity hospital - are still awaiting payment of a location allowance awarded last year to clinical nurse managers in surgical and medical wards.

The payment is worth €2,230 per year and is nearly a year overdue.

Another payment, the enhanced practice payment for staff nurses and midwives, is only being paid now, Ms Fogarty said.

A spokesperson for UL Hospitals: group said: “Nurses who have applied for the enhanced practice contract continue to have their applications processed and payment is made once the agreed HR process is completed. Many nurses are in receipt of the payment.”

The spokesperson added that the location allowance “is currently been processed by HR for all eligible staff and staff who are eligible will receive the allowance”.

The latest restrictions in operation since Friday, March 27 mandate that everyone should stay at home, only leaving to:

  • Shop for essential food and household goods;
  • Attend medical appointments, collect medicine or other health products;
  • Care for children, older people or other vulnerable people - this excludes social family visits;
  • Exercise outdoors - within 2kms of your home and only with members of your own household, keeping 2 metres distance between you and other people
  • Travel to work if you provide an essential service - be sure to practice social distancing

More in this section