Press Release

Statement by Minister Mary Harney on Nurses’ Dispute

Mary Harney, Minister for Health and Children, today (2nd May, 2007) said “It is vital for our society that the nurses claims be pursued in the normal industrial relations mechanisms of the State.”   “The tactics now being pursued by the INO and PNA are unfair to patients, unfair to other public sector workers and unfair to taxpayers.”

“For patients the inevitable consequence of this action even before operations and treatments need to be cancelled, will be to cause obvious worry and distress for patients and their families.”

“Other public sector workers who have signed up for Towards 2016 and Benchmarking II, rightly expect the Government to keep to its side of the bargain by not allowing major special deals for others.”

“Taxpayers who pay for the public sector wage bill agreed in Towards 2016, will be deeply concerned at any unravelling of public sector pay policy.”

“The indications from the Garda Representative Association that it would pursue a follow-on claim if the nurses succeed will be very worrying to taxpayers.”

“It is the inevitable and unfortunate consequence of actions, initially by the nurses’ unions, and now joined by others, to raise the possibility that a large scale pay concession could be made outside Towards 2016 and Benchmarking.”

“The Government has a responsibility to all in society to pursue a responsible public pay policy – we cannot risk letting it run wild. No responsible government should or could.”

“I would call upon the leadership of the INO and PNA to reflect on what they are asking taxpayers to accept: the unravelling of public sector pay policy, the allocation of scarce resources away from new health services and towards higher pay for existing staff; and the dishonouring on the part of the Government of the agreement reached with the vast majority of public sector on pay.”

“I emphasise finally that the claims of the nurses organisations can be pursued in a fair and balanced way in the normal industrial relations processes of the State.”