Nurses and midwives have overwhelmingly rejected pay proposals put forward by the Public Service Pay Commission - a decision which may lead to strike action.
The Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has announced that in a recent ballot, 94% of its members rejected the proposals put forward, which included an increase in some allowances and a reduction in the number of years required to become a senior staff nurse.
An across the board pay rise, which had been sought by the INMO, was not included in the proposals.
The organisation said that the proposals were rejected because they do not solve ‘the current and ongoing crisis which sees high reliance on agency and foreign recruitment in order to provide minimal staffing levels, which are compromising patient safety'.
Commenting on the ballot results, INMO general secretary, Phil Ni Sheaghdha, said they were ‘not surprising'.
"These proposals would do nothing to address the short staffing and appalling working conditions members face every day. The clear message we have received from our members is that they feel abandoned and put upon by being forced to care for an increasing number of patients in poor and dangerous working conditions due to understaffing because of an inability to attract and retain nurses and midwives in our public health service," she said.
She noted that there are 1,100 vacant nursing positions on a daily basis and nurses and midwives continue to be the lowest paid professional grade in the public service.
The INMO's executive council is due to meet on November 5 to consider the results and its next step, which may include a decision to ballot members on industrial action.
Meanwhile, members of the Psychiatric Nurses Association (PNA) have also voted overwhelmingly to reject the pay proposals put forward.
According to PNA general secretary, Peter Hughes, nurses who are experiencing the impact of staffing shortages on a daily basis were ‘extremely disappointed' with the proposals.
"The PNA will now convene a special national executive committee meeting in November with a view to seeking a mandate for industrial action, up to and including strike," the association said.