Latest Developments In The Nurses’ Battle With The HSE

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Jo Tully explains the latest developments in the nurses’ battle with the HSE and the Government. Jo Tully is a theatre nurse in St James’ hospital and a long standing union activist.  She is a People before Profit candidate in the Donaghmede area in the upcoming local elections.

The hugely popular and very determined 3-day strike action by nurses was suspended by the INMO Executive -not called off – on Monday, 10th Feb, on the eve of a further 3 continuous days of strike action.

The strike was suspended on the basis of an agreement brokered in The Labour Court, the details of which have yet to be finalized in talks between the two sides. Central to those talks is the issue of a new contract.

The details were to be agreed between Management and the INMO over the following three weeks after which time the final agreed deal would be put before the INMO members for a ballot.

However, those talks broke down when the INMO Leadership walked out of the talks 2 weeks ago claiming that the terms of the new contract demanded by Management went way beyond what the Labour Court had intended. Management is insisting on truly extraordinary contract changes, specifically draconian changes to rosters and redeployment of staff.

These changes to the contract could mean nurses starting their day’s work in one hospital and finishing in another. As INMO General Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha points out, the Government’s insistence on unreasonable contract terms would put nurses and midwives in some of the most insecure jobs in Ireland, allowing unilateral changes to work locations and hours.

The HSE, with the government in its ear, seems set on using the crisis in the health service to wrest all they can from already overworked nurses. Rather than having conceded to the nurses as a result of the strike, they appear determined to punish them.

The INMO has roundly rejected those terms as unacceptable and going way beyond the parameters envisaged by the Labour Court. Both sides accepted to go back to the Labour Court to get a ruling re the parameters of this new contract.

The Labour Court was expected to reach its conclusion by Friday 29 March and the INMO  had already called and arranged a national meeting of the officers of all the strike committees in the country for Monday, April 2nd.

Clearly, there are serious difficulties and a gaping divide between the two sides. The Labour Court has now deferred its ruling until the beginning of April. The INMO national strike committees’  meeting has provisionally rescheduled for Thursday 4th April.

While the issue dividing the two sides in The Labour Court is the new contract, the reality is that the feeling on the ground is hardening against the whole deal. The fact is that since the suspension of the strike, the feeling amongst nurses has become more negative against how they are being treated.

It’s hard to imagine that it will be accepted. The nurses strike is not over yet.

 

Jo Tully’s profile.