NURSES’ STRIKE, DAY 3: Kilkenny TD says Government must ‘meet nurses halfway’
KILKENNY patients have been urged to stay away from local hospitals again today as day three of the nurses’ ongoing strike over pay and conditions gets underway.
Nurses will return to the picket lines at St Luke’s General Hospital and Kilcreene hospital from 8.30am amid mounting calls for a resolution in the dispute that has crippled services in Kilkenny and across the country.
Kilkenny TD Bobby Aylward this morning called on the Government to “meet the nurses halfway” and kickstart talks to finally bring about a resolution to the dispute.
The Fianna Fáil TD told KilkennyNow.ie: “The Government has to get real on this issue. It is my understanding that there is scope under the existing public service agreement for possible increases. The Government should work within this scope and meet the nurses halfway in an expression of good faith with a view to further closing the gap on the 12% down the line.”
Deputy Aylward added: “We have the best trained nurses in the world. The vocation and passion they have for their patients and the vulnerable people they care for is truly inspiring.”
Despite the impact on hospital services, most of the public appear to be firmly behind the nurses’ action for better pay and working conditions.
On Tuesday nurses who braved the pouring rain on the picket lines at St Luke’s and Kilcreene were given donations of coffees, cakes and snacks from local businesses and members of the public. Cars passing by hooted their horns in support of the nurses.
Up to 50,000 people will be affected by today’s strike, the third of seven planned 24-hour stoppages.
The action will severely curtail services at St Luke’s, which is already suffering from overcrowding. Yesterday 15 patients at our local hospital were treated on trolleys, according to latest figures from the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation’s trolley ward watch.
Meanwhile, last night it was reported that “a big Government push” is under way to prevent further strikes by getting the INMO back to the negotiating table.
Government sources were quoted as saying there has been “frantic efforts behind the scenes” to find new grounds to ask the Workplace Relations Commission or Labour Court to step in.
It is understood the Government is willing to table a review of nurses’ roles that would also examine staffing levels.
But it is still unclear how the crucial issue of pay will be dealt with.
The State mediation bodies are unlikely to get involved unless there is some sign that the deadlock over the nurses’ demand for a pay rise can be broken.