A chairde ,
1. Public Health Service Notification of Employment Curtailment
As you are no doubt aware the CEO of the Health Service Executive issued a memo on the 10th of November to all managers instructing them to curtail recruitment.
The INMO immediately objected to this, as clearly any recruitment slowdown for nursing and midwifery has a lasting impact.
We met with the HSE on 16th November, and we established a number of points which are significant, and the attached letter sets out these points in detail.
The bottom line is the INMO will not accept a reduction to the nursing and midwifery workforce. In addition, we will not accept that funding allocated for nursing and midwifery being used to employ other grades. There are of course difficulties in recruitment that must be addressed in the appropriate manner, but not diversion of funding to other grades who will have a separate budget line covering their employment.
It is essential that nurse managers now understand that interviews must go ahead, that offers which have been accepted generate a contract which must in turn be processed, and that the HSE has confirmed that all graduate nurses and midwives will be permanently employed in the Irish public health service.In addition, it is confirmed that by the HSE’s estimation, there is funding for an additional 600 WTE before year end this year to be employed in nursing and midwifery grades.
You will also see from the correspondence that we are due to meet the HSE management team in ten days and at that point, they will have received their allocation of funding from the Department of Health for the employment framework for the calendar year 2024.
It is our intention to engage with them and make it very clear that commitments that have been made in respect of staffing must be honored and recruitment must continue in all areas of nursing and midwifery.Clearly turning the tap off on recruitment is not an option in the current environment of a global shortage of these posts.
Your Executive Council has reviewed and considered the clarifications we received on the 16th of November and I can assure you that they have a very clear view and plan in respect of the next steps in the event that nursing and midwifery posts and funding for them are not sufficient to meet safe staffing levels in 2024.
You will see in the letter that we have advised that if the numbers being allocated and funded for nursing and midwifery in 2024 are not sufficient we will require engagement on service curtailment.
Obviously, we will notify members after every engagement and keep you updated.We will also be meeting with you in your workplaces over the next number of weeks and setting out the issues as we see them, and that may very well require a very different approach early in the new year.
2. Public Service Pay Negotiations
As members may be aware those of you employed in the public sector, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Pascal O’Donohoe TD has invited the trade unions representing public servants to engage in negotiations for a successor agreement to Building Momentum.
The 19 unions affiliated to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions including the INMO, met this morning and agreed that further clarification is required from government in respect of how we do our business in terms of ongoing negotiations with employers, how we progress claims, and particularly relating to the emergency measures that were introduced in 2008 and 2009 being used on an ongoing basis to block our claims from being properly processed, which has become an obstacle to good industrial relations in the public health service.
The Public Services Committee have today issued this correspondence to the Minister and we await his clarification prior to making any decision in respect of next steps.
We are acutely aware of the need for the cost-of-living issue to be addressed and we intend to do that prior to the expiry of this current agreement.
However, we must also ensure that Government understand that all aspects of emergency legislation introduced in a crisis which no longer exists must be repealed.
3. Claim for Long Covid Occupational Injury Scheme
The Labour Court recently issued a recommendation on this claim being pursued by the INMO, and other health sector unions for a Long Covid occupational injury scheme to protect members’ income when they are infected in work and experience Long Covid. The Court has recognized that there is a need to deal with this issue in terms of the supports available to those suffering from Long Covid. While the Court did not make a final recommendation on the issue, they have directed further direct negotiations between the health service trade unions and management to conclude by the end of March 2024, and in the event that there is not agreement, this claim will again be brought through procedures to the Court. We will continue to vigorously pursue this claim to protect members who are infected in the course of their work.
We will as always communicate with members on any updates in respect of these issues.
Thank you for your attention to this note.
Phil Ni Sheaghdha