Nurses and midwives in Ireland have been recommended to vote to accept new government proposals on safe staffing and pay changes, subject to the successful negotiation of a new contract.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation’s executive council put forward recommendations to its members on Wednesday, to accept new proposals for the workforce.
The news follows a national strike that saw nurse and midwife INMO members withdraw their labour, providing only emergency and lifesaving care for 24 hours at the end of January, as previously reported by Nursing Times.
- Nurses in Ireland prepare to take strike action tomorrow over pay
- Irish nursing union sets planned strike dates for end of month
Members voted at the end of last year in favour of the strike action over low pay, which leaders said was driving staff shortages.
The INMO explained that the new proposals announced this week will involve the negotiation of a new contract and clarifications to be made. This process will take place over the next three weeks.
Under the proposed deal, there will be a new scale that gives a higher gross pay than allied health professionals at almost all points on the scale – pay parity was one of the issues driving the union action.
In addition, new entrants to the pay scale will move up after 16 weeks, skip the second increment and go straight to third point of the existing scale – equivalent to €32,171 or £28,297.
There will also be a new, higher salary scale – upward incremental adjustment for staff nurses and midwives – and a 20% increase to location and qualification allowance rates.
Meanwhile, a “safe staffing framework” will be implemented and funded over the next three years.
This will include guaranteed multi-annual funding to implement safe staffing in all medical and surgical areas and emergency departments in acute settings, and nurse and midwife staffing levels set by evidence-based patient needs.
In addition, there will be a set skill-mix of nurses to healthcare assistants – 80:20 in medical and surgical and 85:15 on acute floor, such as the emergency department.
To ensure that members have the full proposals before placing their votes, the executive said it had decided to ballot members between the 11 and 25 March.
In addition, the union highlighted that it planned to organise regional and workplace-based information sessions over the coming weeks.
“These proposals make important strides for safe staffing, pay parity, and achieving respect for our professions”
Phil Ní Sheaghdha
INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said: “These proposals make important strides for safe staffing, pay parity, and achieving respect for our professions.
“They are not the end-point, however, and show the way for all grades in nursing and midwifery to get to fair pay levels,” she said.
Ms Sheaghdha reiterated that the executive and INMO management were recommending that their members vote to accept the latest proposals.
“There have been many untrue rumours and much inaccurate speculation online about this deal,” she said.
“We took the time to present the deal to hundreds of members today and were glad to note a positive reception,” she added.
The general secretary encouraged all members to “inform themselves of the facts” via its website and to attend upcoming information sessions.