As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we can rightly take pride in our professional contributions to this fight. Your union is fighting for you to secure you the support, resources and staff you need to provide care.
I am writing to update you on some key points we have been working on this week.
1. Expert Group – managers’ pay
The Expert Group, agreed as part of the strike settlement last year, is set to look at the issue of nurse/midwife manager pay, following increases at the staff grade. This will be the first module of its work.
Through constant pressure from the INMO and members, the terms of reference have been agreed and the members of the expert group have been appointed.
We have not been satisfied that the first meeting has not been held, due to COVID-19 restrictions. We are now seeking an online meeting. We have met with the Minister for Health, had the issue raised in the Dáil by opposition parties, engaged with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform through the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and written to the Taoiseach demanding accelerated progress on this the first module.
This is central part of the settlement and the Executive Council of the INMO are clear that this work must be progressed as a matter of urgency.
2. Childcare Update
We previously raised concerns regarding the proposed childcare scheme which has now been abandoned by government. We were not consulted on the scheme in advance.
Prior to the announcement of this scheme, we secured paid time at home for nurses and midwives, once all reasonable work flexibilities have been exhausted. This option still stands.
In this scenario, the essential healthcare worker is classified as being available to work from home and can be allocated work that can be carried out remotely. They will be paid as normal as they are available for work. This is set out in HSE circular 33/2020 and in the explanatory CERS Memo 24/2020.
We are still seeking a proper childcare solution for members and have called on the government to engage seriously with the union in advance of any new scheme.
Additionally, we have lodged a claim that any additional childcare costs, or use of annual leave for this purpose during this period be reimbursed by the employer. Again, it is essential that you keep a record of any additional expenditure.
3. Shaping the next government’s policies
Alongside this immediate pandemic, the next government will shape the health service for years to come. We are feeding into the negotiations between parties, seeking specific commitments in their next programme for government.
You can read some of our key priorities for this process here.
Finally, I want to pay thanks to our fellow trade unionists in the Communication Workers Union (CWU). Not only did they support us in the dispute last year, but they have recently donated a huge volume of hand care products for INMO members during this pandemic. Their members had heard how severe PPE and frequent handwashing can be on skin and wanted to help. This is a real example of practical solidarity from fellow workers and union members. INMO workplace representatives will be contacted next week to organise distribution.
We are also grateful that Cornmarket have kindly donated €30,000 to the INMO benevolent fund, which is a fund available for INMO members who have fallen on tough times.
As ever, the union remains at your service. We will keep you updated with any further information, all updates will appear here - https://www.inmo.ie/Covid19
Is mise le meas,
Phil Ni Sheaghdha