Belfast Telegraph

Nurses suspend planned strike after Labour Court intervention

More than 43,000 nurses and midwives were scheduled to picket for three days from Tuesday.

The nurses’ strike has been suspended after an intervention by the Labour Court.

More than 43,000 nurses and midwives were due to hold three days of industrial action from Tuesday.

The planned action by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) and the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) was suspended on Monday evening to allow members to consider a recommendation made by the Labour Court.

The court ordered both parties to attend formal talks on Monday afternoon after marathon talks over the weekend broke up unsuccessfully in the early hours of the day.

The intervention came after nurses held three one-day strikes in the last fortnight.

In a tweet the INMO said: “The INMO’s elected Executive Council have just received the recommendation by the Labour Court. They have suspended the upcoming strikes at the request of the Court to consider the wide-ranging recommendations.

“Members will receive more information on the proposals in the coming days and the recommendation will be put to a ballot.”

Health Minister Simon Harris welcomed the unions’ decision.

Speaking at Government Buildings he said: “This is welcome news for patients across the country, but it’s also, I know, welcome news for nurses and midwives who did not take the decision to strike lightly.

“I’m very much aware that the last number of weeks have been difficult, difficult weeks for nurses, difficult weeks for midwives, difficult weeks for patients.”

He said the health service will do all it can in the coming weeks to catch up on what he described as “lost time”.

Finance Minister Paschal Donohoe said he would press Cabinet ministers to accept the Labour Court’s recommendation.

“It is our hope and our anticipation that this will form a basis of the resolution of the difficulties that have been at the heart of industrial action over the last number of days,” Mr Donohoe said.

“I believe that the Labour Court recommendation is consistent with the public service stability agreement.”

Mr Donohoe also acknowledged the “huge amount of work” done in recent days in dealing with an issue which he said had caused a huge amount of disruption to patients and families across the country.

Addressing Sinn Fein’s plans to table a motion of no confidence in him over his handling of the cost overruns of the National Children’s Hospital, Mr Harris said he was disappointed but not surprised at the party’s plans.

“The fact that Sinn Fein have decided to play party politics with this is disappointing but not surprising,” he said.

“They are a party that has a tendency to shoot first and ask questions later.”

He said Sinn Fein had tabled or had threatened to table at least six or seven motions of no-confidence since the last general election.

“This is peak Mary Lou (McDonald),” he said.

“I look forward to having an opportunity to defending my record and outlining my plans for my continuing service as Minister for Health.”

Mr Harris is expected to make a statement in the Dail this week about the information he provided to the house on the project last September.

Press Association

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