NURSES' UNION leaders in Ireland ordered over 27,000 striking nurses back to work last week while they ballot on a deal proposed by the Irish government. Many nurses are unhappy with the proposals, which do not meet their demand for every long serving staff nurse to receive higher pay. Instead the government is proposing to create 2,500 positions of 'senior staff nurse' which will only benefit a minority of nurses.
Many nurses were furious that their union leaders ordered them back to work during the ballot. One nurse said the proposed offer 'would not even pay the bus fare home in the evening. We have been made fools of.' 'I think it is laughable,' said another nurse from Dublin. 'It is an insult to all nurses. There is a very strong feeling here that we should stay on the picket line until we have our say.'
The headquarters of the Irish Nurses Organisation were 'inundated with faxes from strike committees calling for pickets to continue while balloting took place', reported the Irish Times. The union leaders have betrayed the nurses by sending them back to work while they vote on the deal. The strike - despite some hostile coverage in the press - had been immensely popular among the public.
Some 10,000 nurses marched through Dublin in one of the Irish capital's biggest ever trade union marches. But union leaders failed to build on this support and are now urging nurses to accept the settlement. The result of the ballot was due on Thursday this week.