Nurses and midwives threaten series of 24 hour strikes unless pay is increased

Nurses and midwives have threatened a series of 24 hour strikes unless the government pushes up their pay.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation has urged its over 40,000 members to vote for industrial action in a ballot that begins today and will end on December 13.

It claimed that low pay is making it impossible to recruit and retain enough nurses and midwives and this is putting patient safety at risk and contributing to overcrowding.

The government has offered a €20m package to nurses in some specialised grades to address recruitment issues but its advisory body on pay found there was no general recruiting crisis among most nurses.

Nurses are also getting pay rises worth around 7pc over the course of the current public sector pay deal up to 2020.

However, they want a pay rise in the region of 12pc on top of this to bring their wages up to the level of professional grades of staff including physiotherapists.

If they go on strike, the Department of Public Expenditure has warned their pay rises will be delayed by nine months and they will face an increment freeze.

“Should the vote pass, nurses and midwives will stop work for 24 hours,” said the INMO in a statement.

“If unresolved, this will escalate to further 24 hour stoppages.”

It said nurses would only provide a minimum of life-saving care and emergency response teams.

“This is all about safety,” said INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha.

“Nurses and midwives do not want to go on strike. We just want to do our jobs and care for patients. Yet understaffing means we can no longer do that.

“The government are ignoring voices from the frontline. Without a pay rise for nurses and midwives, we will never be able to recruit enough staff for a safe health service.

“Going on strike is not a decision we take lightly, but we have been left with no option and are now forced down this path. Nurses and midwives are united and will stand up for our professions and our patients.”

If the industrial action goes ahead, it would be the second time in the union’s 100 year history that it has mounted a national all-out strike.

The only other nurses strike was in 1999.

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