Attn: All Undergraduate Student Nurse/Midwife Members
From: Liam Doran, General Secretary
Re:Student/Nurse Midwife Issues
I refer to recent media coverage with regard to issues relating to the pay of undergraduate nursing/midwifery students undertaking rostered placements as part of the programme.
Unfortunately some aspects of this recent coverage was inaccurate and failed completely to state that many of the issues are currently the subject of review by independent third parties. In that context I wish to advise you of the following.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has continuously sought improvements to undergraduate student nurse/midwife pay and conditions. The INMO raised these issues directly with the HSE, without any resolution, and in late December referred these outstanding matters to the Labour Relations Commission. The issues referred are:
(i) Incremental credit for 36 weeks spent on clinical placement in final year
Incremental credit was always granted to student Nurses/Midwives during this period of work. In 2010 it was withdrawn, by the Department of Health without discussion. The INMO has continuously argued that this is incorrect and we are seeking to have incremental credit restored and credited for this period.
This would mean the individual would go to the second point of the Staff Nurse/Midwife scale following graduation.
(ii) Correction to rate that is paid to Student Nurses/Midwives during this 36 weeks
When the 39 hour week was reintroduced, under the Haddington Road Agreement on 1st July 2013, the hourly rate of pay for Student Nurses/Midwives fell below that of the minimum wage. The INMO raised this issue with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform and the Department of Health. The rate was then corrected to the training rate, as set out in the Minimum Wage Act and this resulted in some back monies being due and paid. The INMO has continued to argue that the training rate is incorrect for a number or reasons.
The INMO has not obtained a resolution to this issue, in direct discussions with the HSE and, therefore, it is now referred, as a grievance to the Labour Relations Commission.
(iii) Salary while awaiting Registration following completion of Degree
The INMO has also argued that the unilateral imposition of a pay rate of 85% of the first point of the Staff Nurse/Midwife salary scale (€23,129 per annum), for those employed post qualification and prior to formal registration, is incorrect. The rate that is sought for this six week period is that which is paid to a FETAC Level 5 Qualified Healthcare Assistant i.e. €25,578. Thereafter, on registration with the Nursing and Midwifery Board of Ireland, the Staff Nurse/ Midwife salary scale would apply.
The Labour Relations Commission has acknowledged the referral of these claims and it is likely that a Conciliation Conference will be held towards the end of March 2014.
(iv) Graduate Programme
The INMO continues in discussions, with all relevant parties, with regard to the Graduate Programme.
It should be noted that many employers are now stating that the majority of 2013 graduates have left and are now working abroad. In relation to the educational Level 9 programme, which is a mandatory part of the whole exercise, we continue to resolve issues with the HSE and the RCSI.
The INMO is acutely aware these issues are the source of great frustration to our undergraduate members. If we do not make satisfactory progress, at the LRC process referred to above, the INMO will refer the matters to the states Labour Court for investigation and recommendation.
We will, of course, keep all undergraduate members advised of developments on these issues.
Thank you for your attention to this update.