On the eve of the 92nd annual delegate conference of this great Organisation, which will take place in my hometown of Kilkenny, it is a fact that the Organisation, its members, and indeed the country, has never faced tougher challenges.
As I write this the media is once again full of criticisms of public servants, the need to make further cuts, for the third time, in their salary and that the Croke Park Agreement is incapable of making the necessary savings required.
All of these commentators, many of whom have an absolute vested interest in promoting the private sector over the public sector, have no idea what the average public servant, including nurses and midwives, earn or the difficulties that almost all are now having in simply meeting their obligations, paying their bills and looking after their families. It is as if the cuts already borne by public servants in the form of pension levies, pay cuts and full compliance with the new universal social charge, with the savage cut in income this has brought about, had never taken place.
Indeed, those who are loudest in their criticism of public servants probably do not rely, to any great extent, upon the availability of public services to allow them live reasonable lives. Instead they are never happier than when tarring all public servants, whether they are on the frontline or not, as being some kind of leech on society and a drain on finances.
So, against this bleak, and wholly manufactured and untrue, background the Organisation will gather to examine our world and to see how, by unity, purposefulness and strength we can support each other, support our patients and protect our workplaces.
Though we might think that we face unprecedented challenges, it is a fact that, in their own way, generation after generation of our predecessors in this Organisation, also faced, and climbed many high mountains. From the very beginning, when 19 brave women gathered, in 1919, to establish this Organisation every decade has brought with it its challenges, its successes and the reality that the journey will never end.
However it can equally be said, based upon our current circumstances, that there has never been a greater time, or a greater need, to remember that age old saying support and solidarity equals strength.
Therefore, through the strength of collective engagement, networking and mutual support, I sincerely hope that the 350 plus delegates attending this week’s conference, will be renewed and revitalised. This will ensure that after conference we will have an even greater resolve to galvanise our members, even those who may appear uninterested, to become involved in our activities; making a real difference to workplaces and to the standards of care available to patients.
The road ahead may be unsure and filled with trepidation, however in the face of the current perfect storm against workers, the individual can never hope to survive. Instead the individual will be isolated, picked upon and exploited in an environment where many employers would say just having a job is sufficient, regardless of what your terms and conditions of employment are.
It is by collective action, manifest through collective strength, that we can hope to ensure that when this storm has passed, and it will pass, we will still have strong nurses and midwives who are world class professionals and a public health service in which patients have confidence and are safe.
So with 92 years behind us, an unknown number of years in front of us, we will gather, we will combine and we will prevail and face down those who tell us we must bail out the banks while everything else we cherish sinks. So, to the delegates gathering this week and to our 43,000 members, I say remember this Organisation is yours and through it we can all confirm, undoubtedly, that ‘support and solidarity equals strength’.
General Secretary, INMO
|Editorial - Support and solidarity is strength|