Nurses 'will refer holiday claim to WRC next week' - INMO

The head of the Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (INMO) has said the union will escalate ...
Jack Quann
Jack Quann

21.29 5 Mar 2021

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Nurses 'will refer holiday cla...

Nurses 'will refer holiday claim to WRC next week' - INMO

Jack Quann
Jack Quann

21.29 5 Mar 2021

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The head of the Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (INMO) has said the union will escalate a claim for extra holidays to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) next week.

Phil Ni Sheaghdha said the claim for 10 days additional leave was made to employers as workers are "exhausted".

She told The Hard Shoulder they have set a deadline of next Tuesday for an outcome.


"Our members are exhausted - last November we lodged a claim on the health service for 10 days additional leave for nurses.

"Other trade unions representing workers in the health service have also subsequently lodged a claim.

"So the employers met us yesterday, they are considering it, we understand from Government that there is a positive disposition to it.

"We don't actually think we should have had to lodge a claim, or that it should have taken even this long to get a positive recognition.

"And we believe that there's absolute justification for those that were really and truly putting their own lives at risk and working in very, very difficult circumstances for compensation - absolutely".

She said 10 days of leave is the minimum, and they are expecting a response within days.

"The normal industrial relations procedures would be that the employer would respond, and if there isn't agreement... we would refer it to the WRC.

"And we notified the employer yesterday that it is our intention by next Tuesday if they haven't responded positively to the claim, that it will be referred to the WRC".

This appears to echo a claim by the National Bus and Rail Union (NBRU), who have also sought an extra 10 days of annual leave in the coming year year.

General-Secretary Dermot O'Leary previously said this was because staff were asked to 'burn off' holidays.

"Normally when people take holidays they do it for a reason, not least to go off to sunny climbs... or go on staycation.

"That didn't happen last year, people were just asked to take those holidays to facilitate the companies and the pressure on the payroll at the time.

"So they weren't able to enjoy their annual leave in the way they would have been used to enjoying their annual leave", he said.

Pregnant workers 'not in the frontline'

Ms Ni Sheaghdha also said the advice 'very clearly' was that pregnant women should not be working in the frontline.

She was speaking after preliminary reports of four stillbirths were "potentially associated with a condition called COVID Placentitis."

Dr Ronan Glynn, Deputy Chief Medical Officer, explained on Thursday: "These reports should be interpreted with caution as the coroners have not yet concluded their findings.

"The HSEs National Women and Infants Programme is aware of and is monitoring the situation and has issued a related notice to obstetric departments."

While the Master of the Rotunda earlier said there was no evidence of an increase in stillbirths since the coronavirus arrived in Ireland.

Professor Fergal Malone said it was too early to say whether the virus caused the stillbirths.

"Unfortunately, we would see probably in excess of about 200 stillbirths every year so, in the middle of a COVID pandemic, it is probably not a surprise that a number of those have been found to have evidence of COVID in the placenta.

"Of course, there is a big difference between finding something in the placenta and confirming that it caused the stillbirth and that is the piece that we don’t know yet," he said.

Ms Ni Sheaghdha added: "When the UK variant was introduced, we still - in acute hospitals in Ireland today - do not have mandatory testing of healthcare workers, that's not correct.

"In our view, there is ample evidence that asymptomatic presentation is a feature, so therefore the only way you find out if somebody is infected or not is by testing.

"There isn't routine testing in acute hospitals, that's wrong.

"Pregnant workers have a high risk, the policy is since February clearly now indicating that pregnant workers are high risk and should not be in the frontline working.

"Nursing and midwifery are female dominated professions: 98% of midwives are women and 92% of nurses are women.

"Many of them are within the child-bearing years - and to have a policy that doesn't categorically take an approach of prevention on a protective basis, as opposed to waiting for the absolute evidence.

"When the absolute evidence comes, sometimes it's a little bit too late.

"The policy now is, very clearly that pregnant workers are high risk - in a high risk category - and should not be working in the frontline".

Main image: INMO General-Secretary Phil Ní Sheaghdha wearing a face mask while arriving at Leinster House to appear before the Special Committee on COVID-19 Response. Picture by: Leah Farrell/

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