Nurses in Ireland to take 24-hour strike action

Union warns of more to come if pay and staffing concerns remain unresolved

Union warns of more to come if pay and staffing concerns remain unresolved

The union's members rejected a government pay offer last year. Picture: Lisa Moyles

Nurses and midwives in the Republic of Ireland are preparing for the first of a potential six days of strike action over safe staffing concerns and pay.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has announced its members will provide only life-saving care and emergency response teams during a 24-hour strike on Wednesday 30 January.

Pay offer rejected

In October last year the union's members rejected a government pay offer that INMO said would have no impact on the majority of nurses and midwives in the country.

In a ballot the following month, 95% of members agreed on taking industrial action.

The union has warned that if the dispute remains unresolved there will be further 24-hour strikes next month – on 5, 7, 12, 13 and 14 February.

It said the Irish Health Service Executive (HSE) could not meet staffing demands on current wages. INMO’s concerns include:

  • The number of staff nurses in the country fell by 1,754 (6%) between 2008 and 2018.
  • Nurses and midwives are the lowest-paid graduate profession in the health service, the union says. A staff nurse earns €31,110 (£27,976) after one year in the sector, compared with €37,784 (£33,977) for an occupational therapist or a physiotherapist.  

The strike would be the second time in INMO’s hundred-year history that industrial action has been taken.

‘Impossible to do our jobs properly’

INMO general secretary Phil Ni Sheaghdha said: ‘Going on strike is the last thing a nurse or midwife wants to do. But the crisis in recruitment and retention has made it impossible for us to do our jobs properly. We are not able give patients the care they deserve under these conditions.

‘The HSE simply cannot recruit enough nurses and midwives on these wages. Until that changes, the health service will continue to go understaffed and patient care will be compromised.’

A Department of Health spokesperson said health minister Simon Harris did not believe industrial action was warranted or unavoidable, adding: ‘The minister believes it is essential that the time is used by all sides to find a resolution. Health sector management will invite the INMO to meet with them next week.’


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