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Government Decision Imposes ‘Slave Labour’ On Working Pre-Registration Nurses/Midwives. 31.01.11
INMO outlines campaign of action to reverse pay cuts

PRESS RELEASE,  Monday, January 31st, 2011

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) today announced a campaign of action to reverse pay cuts to working 4th year pre-registration nurses and midwives which amount to a breach of contract. 

The national agreement, covering the 36 week period when 4th year pre-registration nurses and midwives are rostered for full duties, and replace qualified staff nurses, involves a payment of 80% of the minimum of the staff nurse scale. During this period, which forms part of their four year degree programme, these 1,600 workers are required to work a full roster including long 12 hour days, night duty and weekend shift patterns.

Notwithstanding this national agreement, and without any prior consultation, it has now been confirmed that the Department of Health and Children intends to impose pay reductions, in addition to the 10% pay cut announced in the budget, on all new entrants to the public service, as follows:

-    2011 – 76% of the new lower scale     
-    2012 – 60% of the new lower scale    
-    2013 – 50% of the new lower scale
-    2014 – 40% of the new lower scale

This amounts to a total cumulative pay cut of 65%.  

-    Then in 2015 – no salary at all (100 % pay cut)

These health service workers work exclusively in the frontline, providing direct patient care.  Therefore this cut once again highlights the emptiness of the government’s promise to protect frontline staff and services.

The INMO views this savage cut as imposing ‘slave labour’ and will fight to reverse its implementation. The campaign of resistance, which is fully supported by other unions representing nurses, will have three initial phases as follows:

1.    February 9

Lunchtime protests by pre-registration nurses and midwives, from all four years of the undergraduate programme, from 12.30-1.30p.m. at 13  hospitals across the country:

  • Tralee General
  • Mayo General
  • St Vincent’s, Dublin
  • Beaumont, Dublin
  • Cork University Hospital
  • Sligo General
  • Letterkenny General          
  • Mid West Regional Hospital, Limerick  
  • University Hospital Galway
  • Louth County, Dundalk         
  • Tullamore General             
  • St James’s, Dublin                 
  • Waterford Regional

2.    February 16th 

Protest March and Rally, commencing at 11.30a.m., at Parnell Square, Dublin and proceeding to the Department of Health where a letter, calling on the in-coming Minister to reverse this decision, will be handed in. 

The INMO has sought meetings with the leaders of the five political parties, directly following the march. At these meetings we will be asking them to confirm, if they were in government, that they will reverse this pay cut.

The response from each political party will subsequently be made known to the 6,000 members involved in this campaign ahead of the general election.

3.    Following these two days of action, if there is no resolution, the Organisation will ballot all 4th year pre-registration nurses/midwives for a withdrawal of labour with industrial action commencing in early March.

In addition, this unilateral pay cut:

  • has been referred to the Labour Relations Commission as it is a breach of the Croke Park Agreement and the Information and Consultation Directive;
  • will be the subject of payment of wages claims to the Rights Commissioner Service for breach of contract; and,
  • will be referred for investigation under equality legislation.

Speaking today INMO General Secretary, Liam Doran said:

“The INMO is angered and disgusted by this unilateral decision to cut the pay of working pre-registration nurses and midwives and it is totally unacceptable to the organisation.”  

He continued: “This proposal devalues, to the level of slave labour, the nature of the essential direct care given during this 36 week rostered placement.  No one can seriously expect people to work, the full roster and range of duties, for no pay.”

He concluded “We will fiercely resist this attack on these young professionals which amounts to nothing more than gross exploitation.”

Sheila Dickson, INMO President said “Unlike the UK, or other countries, these frontline workers are not supernumerary on wards.  They replace qualified nurses and midwives and provide essential direct patient care.  

I have spoken with many of our pre-registration members, around the country, who are already finding it difficult, due to the demands of the programme, to make ends meet. This reality was confirmed to me when I met members, from Dublin, who were attending Dundalk IT and had placements in Letterkenny General Hospital.  This meant that they had to rent accommodation in both places.  Other colleagues had mortgages to pay and families to look after and had commenced the programme clearly of the view that a contract existed which would see them paid the 80% rate in their 4th year.”

Ms Dickson concluded: “Our pre-registration members are totally shattered and disillusioned by this cruel act of government.  Many of them have compared it to the arrangements applying to retiring ministers, including the recently resigned Minister for Health and Children, which will see them receive over €125,000 per year for not doing anything, while the country apparently cannot afford to honour its contract to these young caring professionals.  The in-coming government must reverse this most unjust and unfair pay cut.”   

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Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (Cumann Altrai agus Ban Cabhrach na hEireann). The Whitworth Building, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7. T:+353 1 664 0600 E:inmo@inmo.ie