Trinity students show solidarity with striking nurses

Nurses strike for improved pay and working conditions

Trinity students are joining the striking nurses and midwives today at St. James’ Hospital in solidarity with the strike, which calls for pay restoration and improved conditions to provide a more stable health care system.

Students gathered outside House 6 at 1pm, led by the Nursing and Midwifery Society and Trinity People Before Profit, before joining the picket line at the hospital.

The nurses’ action comes after no agreement was reached during talks with the government at the Labour Court, where the Labour Court decided that it would not make any formal intervention in the dispute.

Speaking to Trinity News, Trinity College Dublin Students’ Union (TCDSU) School of Nursing and Midwifery Convenor Ida Lis explained: “This is the biggest movement we have seen since we’ve started. We can only hope that this is the catalyst that results in change.”

“No nurse that I’ve spoken to wants to strike, but every day they are terrified of losing their registration due to unsafe nurse/patient ratios,” Lis continued.

“Unfortunately, most of my classmates are already contemplating leaving [Ireland] in hope of better working conditions and fair pay. Graduation shouldn’t mean emigration.”

Over 35,000 members of the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) are expected to participate in the strike, with today’s action said to be the first of six potential 24-hour strikes that have been scheduled if talks with the government continue to be unsuccessful. This decision was made after over 90% of INMO members voted in favour of industrial action in November 2018.

Nurses are seeking an increase in pay to bring their earnings to the level of other graduates in the health service industry. INMO have said that this provision will help to correct the retention and recruitment issues that are occurring in the health service.

Student nurses and midwives in Trinity have expressed concern that their future careers are in jeopardy, with the view that nurses do not receive the same degree of support as other health care professionals.

In a statement, TCDSU outlined that “Student nurses and midwives in Ireland today are paying fees among the highest in Europe, undertaking long and arduous unpaid placement for three years of their degree, and having their work undervalued and underpaid in their final year”.

“We must stand with the members of the INMO on the picket line and add our voice to their demands. Our nurses and midwives, students and graduates, deserve more respect and better opportunities,” the statement continued.

During the strike, teaching hospitals such as St. James’ Hospital and Tallaght Hospital are expected to provide only emergency services. The Health Service Executive (HSE) has stated that only life-preserving services will be provided.

Shauna Bannon Ward

Shauna Barron Ward is a staff writer at Trinity News. She is a Junior Sophister Law student.