Press Release

Statement regarding nurses’ strike ballot

The Minister for Health and Children, Mr Brian Cowen T.D., today issued the following statement in response to the result of the ballot for an all-out nurses’ strike:

“I am deeply disappointed that nurses have voted for strike action. I do not believe that such action is either necessary or justified. An all out strike is a blunt weapon and will undoubtedly affect all services and inflict hardships on patients and clients of the health service who are in need of nursing care.

“The Nursing Alliance sought and obtained independent arbitration of their outstanding pay claims. The Government’s offer to pay the full terms of the Labour Court package of improvements, from which all nurses will benefit, still stands and we cannot depart from its findings given the wider implications for public service pay. In these circumstances the Government has no option but to uphold the role of the Labour Court as the tribunal of last resort in relation to industrial relations issues.

“The Government believes that the combination of the acceptance of the Labour Court findings regarding pay and allowances, the implementation of the Report of the Commission on Nursing and the continuing discussions with public service unions about a new approach to public service pay determination provide enough scope to address the nursing issues, both pay and non-pay, in a reasonable way.

“I appeal to the Nursing Alliance to call off the threatened all-out strike and to pursue their case in the context of these forthcoming discussions between the Government and the Social Partners on a new national programme to succeed Partnership 2000. I am convinced that the aspirations and interests of nurses would best be served by their union leaders constructively using their influence to shape a new partnership agreement in a way that ensures a new approach to public service pay determination, as has already been proposed by the Taoiseach.”