herald

Sunday 19 August 2018

Coughlan's major U-turn as nurse row gets political

STUDENT nurses have been called on to snub politicians who don't support reversing their pay cuts.

Up to 3,000 student nurses and midwives took part in a march and rally in Dublin in protest at Government plans to phase out payments for work placements.

And nursing unions were today meeting the Fianna Fail spokesman on health Barry Andrews to discuss the plans.

Influence

Minister for Health Mary Coughlan has already said there would be a review of the decision to abolish the payments from 2015.

However, Liam Doran of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) criticised the proposed review as "inadequate", saying Ms Coughlan still indicated some sort of cut would be imposed.

Mr Doran warned that student nurses who face pay cuts could harness a block of 200,000 votes, which could influence the outcome of the General Election.

He described the plans to phase out wages for student nurses during their nine-month work placement by 2015 as 'draconian'. He rejected claims that nurses were engaging in electoral blackmail.

Mr Doran said they were responding to what the Government had done and made no apology for doing so.

Student nurses do a 36-week work placement in the fourth year of their degree and get paid 80pc of the salary of the lowest paid staff nurse.

The Department of Health plans to phase out those payments by 2015.

Around 4,000 nurses protested around the country last week and thousands more attended yesterday's protest in Dublin.

Cowards

Siptu nursing official Louise O'Reilly told a rally outside the Department of Health on Hawkins Street that nurses would hold politicians "to account" and "shame those cowards" who will not pledge to reverse those cuts.

She added that nurses are saying "no to slave labour".

Des Kavanagh of the Psychiatric Nurses' Association said the review announced by Ms Coughlan was "too little, too late".

comurphy@herald.ie

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