Thursday, 7 February 2019
Nurses and Midwives Industrial Action: Statements
Mick Wallace (Wexford, Independent)
The Ministers have a big problem and I am sure it is not easy to fix. They are caught between a rock and a hard place. In terms of the reason for that, there has been a rise in inequality in most of the developed world in recent years and the problem has grown. They will not solve the nurses' recruitment and retention issue. Unless they pay them better, it will remain a problem. It will not go away. They will most likely continue to strike until they get what they see is a fair wage.
The Government says it cannot break the public sector pay agreement, and that is understandable, but it will have to break it. Does that mean that more claims and strikes will follow by other people who believe they should be paid more? It is a huge problem but, truth be told, other sectors too are probably struggling to make ends meet.
I do not expect the Ministers to solve the problem overnight, but it is a fact that in the 1980s a person could buy a house in this town for three times his or her wages. People would need nine times their wage to buy one now.
That is a big problem, as is the cost of rent. Nurses and other people are struggling to make ends meet. Contrast is a significant issue. We all look at what others have and what is happening in other areas. That can be very annoying. The Minister, Deputy Donohoe, knows that I have been raising the issue of the loss of money in NAMA for many years. I genuinely believe that had things been done differently, up to €20 billion could have been saved. I have probably looked under the covers in regard to NAMA more than most. It is a significant problem and the nurses see that.
The situation regarding the children's hospital is nuts. I do not know why BAM was considered for the project. BAM delayed the development of Grangegorman by over two years at great cost to the State because it did not get the job. It was contracted to carry out a job in Cork port and after it was given the tender it sought an extra €11 million, claiming it had made a mistake in the tender. It went to court to dispute the matter. Why was it put on a tender list? The price for the hospital is too high. I have looked at it from a construction point of view and approximately 30% of the overall cost is fluff. It is a joke. BAM is conning the State. It is a scam. How does one deal with it? Who analysed the increased costs? Did someone go through it line by line to assess from where all the extra costs came? I would love to see and analyse a full breakdown of all the extra costs. PwC, which has done plenty of work for BAM through the years, is not the right entity to analyse it. Is anybody from the construction sector looking at it? That is where the extra costs arise. We seem to almost turn a blind eye to these crazy prices that come in. Tenderers seem to think that if a project is for the State, the costs will not be analysed and they will get away with things. I will tell the House a very quick story.