Thursday, 7 February 2019
Nurses and Midwives Industrial Action: Statements
Like many people, including other Members, I am proud to have family and close friends who are nurses. I am the daughter of a midwife and the sister of a neonatal nurse and am acutely aware of the incredible work nurses do. I was delighted to join them on the picket line in Tallaght today because the work they do is among the toughest and most vitally important work undertaken by any group of people in this country. They undertake that work day in and day out.
Does the Minister accept that not being able to find adequate numbers to work in the nursing profession presents an overarching health and safety concern, a crisis and an emergency? Why would one continue to work in a system in which pay is too low, conditions are in need of vast improvement and, crucially, there is no sign of change? That is the situation nurses face.
Our nurses are second to none but the system is failing them and their patients. It is primarily a matter of pay, justice, fairness and equity. Pay is at the heart of this dispute and for Government to make an abysmal offer through the media to settle the pay dispute by excluding pay from negotiations is inflammatory, idiotic and insulting. It shows grossly poor judgment and a worrying absence of any understanding of the plight of nurses and midwives. Will the Minister admit that statement was insulting and wrong and apologise for it? Will he commit to engaging, in a meaningful way, with the general secretary of the nurses' union?