95% of nurses and midwives vote in favour of strike
95% of Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO)'s nurses and midwives have voted to go on strike in a dispute over staff shortages and pay.
The INMO’s executive council, made up of elected nurses and midwives from across Ireland, will meet on January 7 and 8 to discuss the result and decide the next steps.
The executive will determine dates for a 24-hour national strike, which would see INMO members withdraw their labour, providing only emergency and lifesaving care.
This would be only the second time in the INMO’s 100-year history that its members have taken national strike action. Nurses and midwives last engaged in strike action two decades ago in 1999.
This issue centres on staff shortages caused by low pay, leaving the public health service unable to recruit and retain enough nurses and midwives to safely care for patients.
Nurses and midwives are the lowest-paid graduate professionals in the health service, earning thousands less than similarly qualified health professionals, despite having a longer working week.
Recent government pay proposals did not affect most nurses and midwives and were rejected as insufficient by 94% of INMO members in October.
“Ireland’s nurses and midwives are speaking with one clear voice. This vote reflects a deep frustration in our professions, which the government cannot continue to ignore," INMO general secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha said.
“Nurses and midwives simply want to do their jobs and care for patients properly. But low pay has led to staff shortages, compromising safe care.
“Ireland’s current haphazard approach to nurse staffing is costly and bad for patient care, as confirmed by the Minister for Health’s own nursing taskforce.”
INMO president Martina Harkin-Kelly said: “I don’t know a single nurse or midwife who wants to strike. We just want to get on with the job we love, but staff shortages have made that impossible. We’ve reached a breaking point.
“Nurses and midwives are united. We’re standing up for safe staffing, fair pay and for our patients, who deserve better care. It’s time for government to listen to frontline voices and fix this problem once and for all."