25 September 2023

IRELAND: Poor PS pays loses nurses

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The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) claims that public sector nurses are being paid 20 per cent less than nurses with the same duties provided by private agencies.

The result has been staff shortages in the Public Health Service, the INMO says.

General Secretary of the INMO, Phil Ní Sheaghdha said the differential between pay in the Public Service and in agencies supplying workers to the Health Service Executive (HSE) highlighted the fact that pay in the Public Service was now below the real market rate.

According to figures obtained by the union, agency nurses and midwives were now costing the HSE more than €1.4 million (A$2.24 million) per week and that figure could top €100 million (A$160 million) in a full year.

The INMO cited the Xtra Nursing Agency, which now pays an hourly rate at least 20 per cent higher than that in the public sector.

In addition, the union claimed agency nurses in their first five years of employment are “bumped up” to the fifth increment on the pay scale.

The INMO said this meant that a newly qualified agency nurse earned an extra €13,000 (A$20,700), or 46 per cent more, than her directly employed Public Service colleague.

However, agency staff do not enjoy certain Public Service benefits, including guaranteed pensions and tenure.

The INMO has been campaigning for a 12 per cent across-the-board pay rise for nurses and midwives, which it argues is essential to address recruitment and retention difficulties.

The Public Service Pay Commission categorically rejected such a proposal, and instead recommended a €20 million (A$32 million) package of allowances targeted at the worst hit areas of the Health Service.

A vote by members of the INMO and the Psychiatric Nurses Association has rejected that proposal by around 95 per cent.

The HSE noted this rejection and said the matter would be considered “through the appropriate industrial relations framework”.

Dublin, 28 October 2018

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