The 24/7 Alliance of frontline workers, claim that proposals in Croke Park II, involve wage cuts that will disproportionately affect those working shift. Members of the alliance also pointed out that once again it will be low paid female workers who will bear the brunt of these measures. Many female workers for family reasons, have to work part-time hours, they rely on the premium payments to boost their wages.
Approximately 85 to 90% of psychiatric nurses are female. The previous policy of family friendly work hours in the HSE is now gone out the window. Many nurses are sacrificing valuable family time to work holidays and unsociable hours to boost wages so that they can pay the costs of child care. The union have organised 11 town hall meetings to try to explain to communities the wider impact of cuts across the service. The situation has become very stressful for these important workers and distress to frontline staff is not in anyone’s interest. An estimated 3,900 psychiatric staff were physically attacked at work in the last year. Why should these people put up with a stressful job that does not pay them a fair wage?
Outsourcing is costing the State.
The moratorium in the HSE has decreased the number of nurses in the service to 6,800 while the increased use of agency nurses cost the state €84 million last year. The Graduate nurse’s programme, which last year reduced the wages of graduates by 20%, is being successfully boycotted; so far only 85 people have applied. Those nurses due to graduate in September this year will be forced to emigrate in order to get a fair wage for their skills.
Garda Morale is Low
The Garda overtime rate, which is lower than the nurse’s rate, is to be cut again. This will represent a cut in take home pay of a further 3.5%. A Guard on €42,000 will be taking a cut of €2,000 and will have their annual leave reduced. Effectively, the government are asking frontline staff to work longer hours for less money.
The average Guard has had their wages cut three times in the last few years, during the same time frame mortgage rates have increased at least three times. Added to this the cost of childcare, increased fuel bills, and a property tax, it is inevitable that Garda morale is low.
The INMO has already stated that it will not be bound by the aggregate vote on Croke Park II. Other frontline workers should not feel bound by ICTU, who, in these negotiations are putting the interests of the markets ahead of the workers that they are supposed to represent. The Government are threatening to legislate for pay cuts in the public sector if they cannot reach agreement on Croke Park II. This is bully-boy posturing and needs to be tackled head on by the unions; the union leadership has to start representing the interests of its members and not its friends in government.