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Members Update 11 - 13.10.17
Public Service Pay Agreement
Friday, 13th October 2017
 
Dear Member,
 
A number of issues have arisen this week in respect of matters relating to the Public Service Pay Agreement (2018 – 2020).  I will, in this note, set out the INMO’s contribution for your attention;
 
1. New Entrants Salary Scale
 
On Thursday, 12th October 2017, a meeting was held between officials from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, the INMO and representatives of other Public Service Trade Unions in respect of new entrant salary scales.   As you will recall, in 2011 all entry grade salaries were reduced by 10%. (Staff nurse grade is the entry grade in the nursing/midwifery professions). The INMO, for its part, lobbied heavily to have this removed and in 2013, as part of the Haddington Road Agreement, the pre- 2011 and post 2011 salaries were merged.  However there remains a disparity in that new entrants have a lower entry and take longer to reach the maximum of the scale than those that were employed prior to 2011.
 
The Public Service Stability Agreement required the parties i.e. government and the trade unions, to meet and examine this issue and that was the purpose of the meeting on Thursday.  At this meeting, the Department advised that there would be a significant cost attached to correcting this issue and they had some calculations which were contested by the trade unions. The INMO raised the negative impact of the introduction of the 10% lower salary scale on the nursing/midwifery workforce which was further negatively affected by the introduction of the Graduate Programme.  The Graduate Programme is now obsolete however the residue of the negative effect remains. 
 
As members are aware, this is a very important issue for all unions, including the INMO, as the existence of two salary scales for the same entry grade negatively impacts on those recruited since 2011 and cannot continue.  
 
The next steps are that the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform will require of all departments to submit concrete facts in respect of the numbers recruited by grade since 2011.  Once these facts are established further meetings will be held to progress the issue. The INMO will be party to these discussions.
 
2. Working Hours 
 
As members are aware the issue of working hours was raised during the Public Service Pay Agreement and a reduction to hours to the pre 2013 working hours was not agreed.  The INMO continues to pursue parity for nurses and midwives with their professional colleagues who currently work a 37-hour week.
 
On Thursday 12th October RTE – Morning Ireland, in their review of the budget, referenced a document which the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform had prepared in respect of working hours in the public service.  The INMO responded to this by publicly challenging the calculations, and the inferred benefits the Government associate with these changes.  Click here for press release. 
 
The INMO reminded government that, following a protracted dispute in 2007, INMO members gained a 37.5-hour week however, it was applied on a cost neutral basis, therefore to now emphasise the cost associated with its correction is somewhat ironic.  
 
In addition, the INMO reminded government that there remains a major shortage of nurses and midwives in Ireland and that that is a reflection of a general shortage of nurses and midwives across the OECD countries.  Other countries are competing with Ireland in recruiting nurses/midwives on superior terms and conditions including a shorter working week.
 
Members must be assured that the achievement of a 37-hour week is very high on the INMO’s agenda as nurses/midwives remain the only professional grade in the health service working more than 37 hours per week.  
 
It is the view of INMO members that poor pay and the current hours are a disincentive to retention, and that they have, in fact, reflected an increase in the agency costs which now run to just over €1million per week for nursing grades in the HSE.
 
Parity of pay and hours is the INMO’s agenda as we move to the next phase of implementation of the Public Service Stability Agreement.
 
The Terms of Reference for the Public Service Pay Commissions examination of matters affecting recruitment and retention, are due to be considered by Government next week and we are advised that the process will then immediately commence. 
 
The INMO, when we meet with the Public Service Pay Commission, intend to reiterate and demonstrate that the current pay and hours of nursing/midwifery staff in Ireland mitigates against recruitment and retention within the grades.  This directly influences the ability to adequately provide or expand the Irish public health service. 
 
3. Reaction to Budget 2018
 
You may have seen the INMO’s press statement (click here) in respect of Budget 2018.  There is much detail still required in respect of how the additional finance and additional staffing levels will be applied within the HSE.  The INMO has sought to meet with the Minister for Health to discuss the health allocation and next steps in developing the HSE’s Service Plan for 2018.   You can be assured that the INMO seeks that the bulk of the 1,800 additional staff are allocated to the frontline nursing and midwifery services.  Considering the current shortages real efforts are now needed in this area to improve the workplace for those who are working in increasingly intolerable conditions.
 
Real change within, and development of, the Irish public health services will only be realised if the service is properly resourced.  This requires clear commitment to the funding of the Taskforce on Nurse Staffing, the Maternity Strategy and the SlainteCare Report.  
 
Thank you for your attention to this note and further updates will issue as matters progress. 
 
Is míse,
 
 
PHIL Ní SHEAGHDHA
General Secretary Designate 
 
 
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Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (Cumann Altrai agus Ban Cabhrach na hEireann). The Whitworth Building, North Brunswick Street, Dublin 7. T:0016640600 E:inmo@inmo.ie