Sunday, April 23, 2006

Irish nurses strike 1980 and 1999

The Irish experience of strike action first occurred in 1980 over a pay dispute.

It lasted 17 days and mostly involved nurses belonging to SIPTU (then known as the Irish transport & General Workers Union - ITGWU)

According to ITGWU Nursing Officer Pat Brady the strike action was successful in that it achieved a major pay increase for nurses.

the union also recruited substantial number of members from the Irish Nurses Organisation (then like the RCN a no strike union)


On Tuesday 19th October 1999 by the biggest strike in its history, as 27,500 nurses began indefinite strike action over pay and working conditions.

Members of all four nursing unions backed the strike by massive majorities on October 11. They rejected an offer by the Labour Court (a cross union-government body), which the government claimed amounted to a 23 percent rise on basic salaries.

SIPTU nurses voted 82 percent in favor of strike action, and the Irish Nurses Organisation, voted 96 percent in favor. While smaller unions IMPACT and the Psychiatric Nurses Association members backed the action by 89 percent.

27,000 nurses began on
19 October 1999. The key issue for the nurses was their bid to enhance both their pay and professional status to a level that they felt was commensurate with their qualifications and the professional demands which are made upon them.

The government, for its part, was fearful that further concessions would provoke "knock-on" pay claims elsewhere in the public sector. For this reason, the government was resolute in its determination to face down the nurses, partly in an attempt to dissuade other public sector workers from pressing their own claims. The strike was called off after nine days, after the nurses had secured some concessions that exceeded the terms previously offered following a
Labour Court recommendation