5 April 2007 Edition

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Nurses' dispute 40,000 work-to-rule

Mary Harney should intervene directly to resolve nurses’ dispute

Sinn Féin Dáil leader and spokesperson on Health and Children Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has called on the 26 County Minister for Health and Children Mary Harney to intervene directly to help to resolve the nurses’ dispute. He said the Minister had failed to ensure that the long-standing need for a 35-hour week for nurses was met by the health service employers.
Irish Nurses Organisation General Secretary, Liam Doran has said this week that the dispute is more likely to escalate in the next few days rather than weeks. The work-to-rule action currently pursued by the nurses will be in place “indefinitely” until the dispute is resolved. This action, involving 40,000 nurses, began at 8am on Monday morning.
Doran also indicated that the action may escalate to nationwide work stoppages. Three weeks of talks involving all parties involved and overseen by the National Implementation Body aimed at averting industrial action by nurses, collapsed on Tuesday. The INO alongside the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) are calling for a 10% pay increase and the introduction of a 35 hour working week. Doran of the INO has said that “patients are safe in the hands of the profession” while this dispute is taking place. The work-to-rule will involve nurses not answering telephones, except in emergencies, or use computers in Accident and Emergency Departments to input clinical information. There is also a ban on assisting in bed management, administrative work.
On Monday, Caoimghín Ó Caoláin said: “This work to rule by the Irish Nurses Organisation and the Psychiatric Nurses Association was long signalled in advance and has the support of 96% of INO & PNA members who were balloted for industrial action. The dispute has come about not because of a last-minute breakdown in talks in recent days but because the Government and the health service employers failed to address the long-standing need to reduce the working week of nurses to 35 hours.
“Minister Harney should intervene immediately to ensure that the dispute is resolved speedily through the granting of the shorter working week and the resolution of outstanding pay issues.
“Nurses and midwives are at the front line of our health services, delivering care to patients in very difficult circumstances because of the gross inadequacy of a health system that successive Governments have failed to reform. It is an indictment of that system that these front-line workers should have to resort to a work to rule.”

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