Reports from the contingency talks between the INMO and Government negotiators is that the deadlock is worsening. In response to a steadfast Government position, the INMO has announced two additional strike dates. They are also escalating the number of services which will be on strike, with the total number rising to 240.
Strikes days are planned on the 19th and 21st of February, they come in addition to dates previously planned for the 5th and 7th of February, and February 12th and 14th. The INMO has said that it will also be organising a nationwide rally on Saturday, February 9th. It is unclear at present if this will also be considered a strike day.
Phil Ní Sheaghdha, General Secretary of the INMO, has said: "Everybody, except the Government, recognise that there is a serious understaffing problem in our health services. The public support for the strike on Wednesday showed that the Irish people stand with nurses and midwives."
She continued, saying: "Our message is clear. We will not be going away – resolving this dispute requires direct engagement from the Government, recognising the real recruitment and retention problems in Irish nursing and midwifery.
She concluded by saying: "We simply want to be able to do our jobs, but our health service cannot hire enough nurses and midwives on these noncompetitive wages," and adding: "As ever, we remain available for talks with the government for any realistic proposals."
In response, the HSE has said it remains available to engage in any efforts to avert industrial action: "We are continuing to engage with the INMO to put in place arrangements for the safe provision of services in advance of next Tuesday's strike," it said.
A spokeswoman for the Minister for Health said that Simon Harris regrets the decision taken by the union. She said the minister believes there is an onus on both sides to engage in discussions to avoid the dispute.
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