Health Minister told to ‘back off’ and leave newly qualified nurses alone

Minister for Health James Reilly has been told to “back off”and find a more “equitable” solution rather than reducing the starting salary for newly qualified nurses and midwives to 80 per cent of the current rate.

Sinn Féin Senator Trevor O’Clochartaigh wants the Minister to end the controversial recruitment initiative of graduate nurses and instead implement an “equal work, equal pay” approach.

Speaking following a meeting with the local Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, he stated the public are “outraged” at how graduate nurses are being treated.

“They are disgusted by these attempts to scapegoat our young people once again. The nursing recruitment initiative is a sham that perpetuates inequality and discrimination in our public services. Our local Government representatives Derek Nolan, Brian Walsh and Seán Kyne in particular need to tell the Minister for Health to back off and find a more equitable solution.”

He claimed that although the HSE have begun to advertise these new nursing posts only 30 graduate nurses have applied.

“Graduate nurses have become the most recent casualty in the current government’s austerity agenda. Whilst the recruitment of 1,000 nurses and midwives is welcome these graduates are deserving of existing rates of pay and existing terms of employment. It is entirely unacceptable to expect newly appointed nurses to perform the same duties as their colleagues for lower pay. This is utterly immoral and a blatant violation of workers’ rights.”

Young people are facing the brunt of what he terms the Government’s “aggression”, according to Senator OClochartaigh.

“As we have seen numerous times, it is young workers and new entrants to the public sector who are taking the hit. We have seen the same with teachers and with junior doctors and elsewhere.

“While these workers are being expected to tolerate lesser pay and conditions, the Government is singularly failing to address excessive pay at the higher levels of the public sector. The Government should be focusing on lowering the wage bill at that level, rather than exploiting young workers.”

He says the INMO and PSA have come out in opposition to this measure and they have Sinn Féin’s full support in this regard.

“All efforts should be made to resist this blatant attempt to exploit our graduate nurses. The fact that only 30 graduate nurses have applied for the posts, indicates the opposition and determination of our young people. It also sends a strong message to Minister James Reilly that his plan is unworkable and wholly inadequate. ”

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