Nurses seek two extra days of holidays in row over pay hikes

INMO lodges claim after delay to pay rises

INMO claims pay awards owed to nurses and midwives were delayed on two occasions last year. Stock image

Anne-Marie Walsh

Health Minister Stephen Donnelly faces a demand for two extra days of holidays for more than 40,000 nurses as compensation for delays in paying wage hikes due under the current public sector pay deal.

The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has lodged a claim with the Department of Health and HSE following a meeting of its senior officials last week. It wants the annual leave to be granted because pay rises due last year under the Building Momentum deal were paid late.

The Department of Health has claimed the delays were due to the complexity of the health service’s payroll systems.

Some sources claimed the nursing union’s demand could cost in the region of €42m.

They said this may rise to more than €100m if other health workers who got the pay rises late lodged follow-up claims.

The annual leave claim comes to light as unions including the INMO have begun talks with government officials on a new pay deal for the country’s 385,000 public servants.

Phil Ní Sheaghdha, general secretary of the INMO, is a member of the top team of four negotiators representing the public service unions.

The Building Momentum pay agreement is due to expire at the end of this month.

The INMO claims that the HSE and department are in breach of the Building Momentum deal.

It is claiming that pay awards owed to nurses and midwives were delayed on two occasions in the past year. The union says this includes one delay of six months and another delay that lasted three months.

A spokesperson at the Department of Health said it is aware of the INMO’s claim seeking two days of additional annual leave for nursing staff.

“While delays in issuing pay increases were noted in certain areas of the Health Service Executive due to complexities with local payroll systems, it is important to note that all HSE staff have, and always will, receive every pay rise due to them, with retrospective payment to the appropriate effective date,” she said.

The department did not provide a response when asked how much the claim would cost.

A spokesperson at the INMO confirmed it has lodged a claim with the Department of Health and the HSE because of delayed payments to nurses and midwives.

She said the claim is for additional annual leave and would apply to nurses and midwives who work in the public service. The spokesperson was unable to provide a costing for the claim.

“We believe the employer to be in breach of the current public sector pay agreement, Building Momentum,” she said.

“Agreed pay awards owed to nurses and midwives have been delayed twice in the last year, on one occasion by six months and the other by three months.”

She said this is happening during a cost-of-living crisis.

“We are at the beginning of negotiating a new public service agreement, our members want to be assured that if pay awards to deal with the cost-of-living crisis are agreed, that they will be paid to them at the same time as the rest of the public service.”