This morning nurses and midwives are out on strike again for the third day of stoppages across the Twenty Six Counties. To date the Fine Gael led government has tried to deflect public support from the nurses instead of engaging with them. On Monday Simon Harris and Paschal Donohoe put out a joint statement in which they claimed that they were willing to implement work practice changes as proposed in the Safe Staffing Framework document but completely ruled out pay increases, claiming that to give into wage demands would set a dangerous precedent across the public sector.
Phil Ní Sheaghdha, of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation, responded by reminding Harris and Donohoe that non-pay issues had already been worked out in a 2017 agreement but they were unable to be put that agreement into practice because of staff shortages. She correctly dismissed Monday’s proposals as ‘spin masquerading as substance’, which the INMO only heard of through the media.
Next week will see an increase in strike activity with a three-day INMO stoppage planned for February 12th, 13th and 14th. The Psychiatric Nurses Association of Ireland has announced that its members will also increase their industrial action across the same three day period. Their existing daytime ban on overtime will now be extended to include the overnight shifts on Wednesday and Thursday of next week.
Meanwhile the INMO are encouraging the general public to march with them on Saturday (February 9) to Leinster House. Assembling at midday at the Garden of Remembrance, the demonstration will be seen as a barometer of support for the striking healthcare staff. A large turnout will send a clear message to Fine Gael and Fianna Fail that they must give the nurses the wages they need to do their jobs in a sustainable manner.
Éirígí is, therefore, encouraging people to join the protest to show their public support for our nurses and our public health service. Our party activists and supporters will be marching as part of a block behind the banner of Communities Against Low Pay. Bígí linn.