Industrial action by nurses and midwives is set to escalate, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) has confirmed.
Members of the organisation held their first strike in 20 years on January 30, and further strikes were planned for February 5, 7, 12, 13 and 14. However, extra strike days have now been announced - February 19 and 21.
During these times, nurses and midwives will withdraw their labour, providing only lifesaving care and emergency response teams.
Some 25,000 patients had medical appointments cancelled during the strike on January 30, and this week, the number of services on strike will increase from 82 to 240.
The dispute centres on poor pay and understaffing. According to the INMO, nurses are ‘seeking to secure safe staffing levels in the health service through increases in pay to make the profession more attractive'.
"Nurses and midwives proudly stood up in defence of our patients and professions on January 30, but the Government has responded with threats and intransigence.
"Everybody - except the Government - recognises that there is a serious understaffing problem in our health services. The public support for the strike on January 30 showed that the Irish people stand with nurses and midwives," insisted INMO general secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha.
She said that resolving this dispute ‘requires direct engagement from the Government'.
"We simply want to be able to do our jobs, but our health service cannot hire enough nurses and midwives on these uncompetitive wages. As ever, we remain available for talks with the Government for any realistic proposals," Ms Ní Sheaghdha added.