Nurses will take industrial action to protect pay

Local nurses will take industrial action if necessary if there is any attempt to cut their pay, a leading local union official warned this week.

Hot on the heels of Health Minister Mary Harney’s comments earlier this week Noreen Muldoon, the Irish Nurses’ Organisation’s industrial liaison officer in the west, voiced her union’s outright opposition to any reductions in pay and allowances currently paid to nurses and midwives.

She insists nurses are already doing “more than their fair share” to resolve the country’s current economic difficulties and help stabilise public finances.

“The INO is reminding the Government that nurses and midwives are doing this through the imposition of the 7.5 per cent pension levy, the reduction of 1,600 nursing posts [nationally] in the past 18 months, the continued non-filling of all posts that fall vacant and the HSE’s continued initiative to terminate the employment of all staff with less than 12 months service.”

She stresses that nurses and midwives are not well paid compared to many other sectors of the economy and are not the architects of the economic downturn.

“We did not, in any way, contribute to the current economic mess which was brought about by the actions of government and a reckless banking sector.”

Ms Muldoon says the INO will protect its members with, if necessary, industrial action if there is any attempt to impose pay cuts on its members.

“We will also be active participants in discussions, across public service unions, with regard to any initiative thought necessary to protect the income of other essential public servants, providing essential public services on a 24/7 basis.”

She says frontline staff, particularly nurses and midwives, are bearing the brunt of staffing cuts - more than 1,600 in the past 18 months.

“Despite this, nurses and midwives continue to strive to deliver safe care to their patients. Against this background the INO will mobilise, as required, to defend the total income of our members, whether in the form of pay or allowances, while also striving to maintain safe standards of care to patients and clients.”

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