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Media Watch - Croke Park leads

The media spotlight was on the INMO’s rejection of government proposals in the Croke Park extension talks, writes Ann Keating

Croke Park Extension
The Croke Park Extension issue was featured on page two of the Daily Mail (March 16). The newspaper ran a headline – Nurses and shift workers ‘will lose most’ under new Croke Park terms.

“Pay cuts planned under the revised Croke Park deal will disproportionately affect women a report has claimed. Nurses and shift workers will lose the most – up to 11.4 percent of their salaries – the study carried out for the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation revealed. The union has urged its largely female membership to reject the proposals.”

Liam Doran said “nursing staff have been unfairly singled out for cuts to premium payments as they rely on shift work to boost their salary. He said the INMO is investigating if it can challenge the planned cuts on the grounds that they discriminate against women.

“Premium payments had been fairly static over the past 40 years or so. They are now not going to be uniform… Whether that is stepping over the equality boundaries, we are certainly going to seek an opinion on that.”

“The INMO report, conducted by the actuarial firm Joseph G Byrne & Sons Consulting, revealed that staff nurses and psychiatric nurses will lose the most. An 11.4 percent cut will see them lose €5,662 and €5,441 respectively from a previous gross pay of €49,501 and €48,860. In contrast, a senator with a gross salary of €65,621 will lose just €621 or 0.9%. This week, the government’s Croke Park talks chief negotiator, Paul Reid, said the average nurse would lose 1.7 percent under the plans.”

However, Phil Ní Sheaghdha said: “Mr Reid’s figures were ‘incorrect’, adding that when changes to twilight payments and Sunday premium are taken into account, that figure goes up to 11.4 percent.”

Liam Doran was quoted in the Irish Examiner (March 15) following the first information meeting on the proposals of the Labour Relation Commission, which was held in Cork. The headline read – GRA chief says gardai will act to protect pay.

Mr Doran said: “No one has the right to vote to cut the pay of their colleague workers just because they think they are getting away lightly. We all know there are people who say the alternative will be worse and ‘I don’t want to go on strike… If this goes through the white flag is so far up the pole that it will not be brought down for 10-15 years. We have got to say no.”

The Croke Park Extension proposals were also covered in the Industrial Relations News (March 14) under the headline – Nurses union promises members new vote if PSC majority backs deal.

“The INMO’s director of industrial relations has told IRN that if a majority of union delegates on the ICTU public services committee vote to back the Croke Park revision proposals, then her union will re-ballot members because they could not accept a situation where members of other unions vote to cut the pay of INMO nurses and midwives.

“Phil Ní Sheaghdha also claims that concessions made by the management side in the Croke Park talks were made before INMO walked out with three other unions, some twelve hours before the remaining public services committee unions concluded agreement on a final LRC document, which sets out a revision to the Croke Park Agreement.”

Hospital network shake-up
Hospital network shake-up in doubt – this was a headline in the Irish Independent (March 14).

The story read: “Nurses are going to resist the plan by health minister James Reilly to relocate them around the country – in a move which threatens the shake-up of the hospital network.

“The plan to reorganise the country’s 49 hospitals is due to be brought to Cabinet this month. It will lead to the shutting down of some 24-hour accident and emergency departments and the transfer of services to different locations. But it has been placed in jeopardy by the insistence of nurses that they will oppose the new relocation rules in the Croke Park deal.

“The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation said it would not accept its 40,000 members being ‘bludgeoned’ into taking unacceptable transfers far from their homes. Without the co-operation of the INMO, Dr Reilly will have to try to move nurses under protest or threaten them with dismissal – making it extremely difficult to implement his plan.”

Dave Hughes, deputy general secretary, said that the plan was “pretty close to dictatorship”, with nurses facing disciplinary action and the possible loss of their jobs if they refused to move.

“We don’t find that acceptable at all, so we certainly will be campaigning against that element of it as well. We’re in the eye of the storm,” he added. “The new Croke Park deal specifically states that the relocation of health staff such as nurses will be required for ‘the establishment of hospital group structures.

“There will be a call for volunteers to move to new posts up to 45km away. But if there are not enough volunteers, it will be a case of ‘last in, first out’. And those who do not agree may be offered a ‘voluntary departure’.

“Mr Hughes said that the new rules on redeployment would make the lives of its mainly female nurses impossible because they would no longer be working close to their homes and families.”

Ann Keating is the INMO media relations officer email: annkeating@eircom.net

Media Watch - Croke Park leads
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