Ireland’s nurses and midwives are set to take strike action early next year after an agreement could not be reached.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has voted by 95% to back strike action over pay and staff shortages.
The INMO’s Executive Council, made up of elected nurses and midwives from across Ireland, will meet on January 7th and 8th 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 hundred-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.
Recent government pay proposals did not affect most nurses and midwives and were rejected as insufficient by 94% of INMO members in October.
Low pay has led to staff shortages.
Phil Ní Sheaghdha, INMO General Secretary, said: “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.
“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.”
Martina Harkin-Kelly, INMO President, 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.”