Thursday, 7 February 2019
Nurses and Midwives Industrial Action: Statements
I will address the two Ministers who are present. I want to put in context the reason we are here and welcome all of the wonderful men and women who work in nursing services - in psychiatric, general nursing and midwifery - to the Visitors Gallery. We need to put this issue in the context of the economy. We are living in the fastest growing economy in Europe. Personal wealth in this country has increased by €300 billion in the past five years - no other country in Europe can make such a boast - yet our nurses and midwives are paid less, treated worse and understaffed compared with those in any other European economy. This puts the issue in the context of priorities. One of the key reasons the Government is holding out stubbornly against the will of the people, the general population, and the obvious moral case the workers have is that it does not want other workers to learn the lesson that they, too, can share in this wealth. The wealth created on the backs of and because of the sacrifices made by workers is moving in one direction. It is going to the wealthy; it is not being shared among wider society. That is the agenda of the Government and it wants to maintain it.
I will put another spin on the dispute which is contrary to that constantly put on it by the Government, including the Minister's latest that he had an opportunity to pass a picket this morning. I have never crossed a picket in my life, nor have many other Deputies and Senators. We stop and show a little solidarity. The Minister said he heard the chant about safe staffing and thought to himself how one could have safe staffing if nurses were turning their backs on the building in which they should be working.