ON THE PICKET LINE Donna Hyland outside Mayo University Hospital last Wednesday.
Striking Mayo nurses report ‘great support’
Over 35,000 nurses nationwide downed tools and joined picket lines for the first day of strike action in freezing temperatures last Wednesday, January 30.
Mayo IMNO (Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation) representative Donna Hyland told The Mayo News that nurses and midwives in Mayo have been overwhelmed with support after day one of strike action. “There’s no doubt about it, we got great support from the general public and widespread backing from people and businesses across the community for our initial 24-hour work stoppage. We had people stopping and offering us words of support, passers by in cars who were beeping their horns as they drove past and local businesses arriving with food and drinks throughout the day.”
This strong show of support was replicated at picket lines around the country. Members of the public also called to picket lines across the country, offering encouragement and even joining in the demonstrations outside hospitals for a few of hours where they could.
“INMO members have received support from international groups over the last few weeks. Irish nurses in Sydney, Australia, organised a rally in support of striking INMO members, while Irish trained nurses and midwives in London sent a message of solidarity with nurses and midwives in Ireland who are in dispute,” said Hyland, adding: “The message from Irish nurses and midwives abroad is ‘give us a reason to come home’.”
The INMO representative continued: “Overcrowding and understaffing are safety issues which have been raised by nurses and midwives working on the frontline for many years. Our position remains that we want a resolve to the issue of recruitment and retention of nurses and midwives. We are overwhelmed and grateful for all the support we received on the picket and in the last number of weeks.”
In a bid to resolve the dispute, the Government yesterday (Monday) proposed new talks with nursing unions on issues relating to staffing levels – but not on pay.
However, the general secretary of the INMO, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, rejected the proposal, branding it the move ‘cynical’ and the proposal ‘spin’.
Strike action is resuming today, February 5, with the HSE estimating that about 50,000 people will be affected. Further strikes are planned for February 7, 12, 13, 14, 19 and 21 unless a solution is found.