Student midwives threaten action
Student nurses and midwives have threatened a campaign of industrial action over Government plans to cut their pay.
A mass rally and lunchtime protests will be staged by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) in the run up to the general election.
The nursing union, Psychiatric Nurses Organisation (PNO) and SIPTU will also ballot all fourth year trainees to withdraw their labour from early March over cost-cutting proposals to phase out salaries for working on wards during a nine-month placement.
Liam Doran, INMO general secretary, accused the Department of Health of imposing slave labour on 1,600 fourth year pre-registration nurses and midwives who work 12-hour days, night shifts and weekends in place of qualified colleagues.
He said: "This proposal devalues, to the level of slave labour, the nature of the essential direct care given during this 36-week rostered placement. No one can seriously expect people to work, the full roster and range of duties, for no pay.
"We will fiercely resist this attack on these young professionals which amounts to nothing more than gross exploitation."
Up until now students have received 80% of a staff nurse salary during their nine month placement on hospital wards, which is part of their four year degree. The payment is being phased out over the next four years and will be abolished by 2015.
The INMO, which has already referred the matter to the Labour Relations Commission, plans to stage lunchtime protests at 13 hospitals nationwide on Wednesday, February 9, followed by a protest march and mass rally in Dublin city centre a week later.
If there is no resolution, all fourth year pre-registration nurses/midwives will be balloted for a withdrawal of labour with industrial action commencing in early March.
The Department of Health said the budgetary decision to gradually reduce and phase out pay for student nurses was necessary given the scale of the budget deficit, the need to put the public finances in order and the need to achieve significant pay savings under the National Recovery Plan.