Donegal Deputy Thomas Pringle has repeated the call for student nurses and midwives to be paid.
Last weekend, placements for first to third year students were suspended for two weeks, while final-year interns will continue to work for €10.70 per hour. Student members of the INMO have expressed frustration at being “left up in the air”, facing uncertainty over the coming months.
“Many students tell us that they want to make a direct contribution to the fight against COVID, and are seeking healthcare assistant contracts while their placements are suspended,” said INMO General Secretary, Phil Ní Sheaghdha.
Independent TD for Donegal Thomas Pringle has criticised reports that while student nurses and midwives are being offered €100 a week, pay rises for administrators are being discussed at Cabinet.
He said: “While huge pay increases are being discussed at Cabinet, like the Torys, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil last year encouraged the public to clap for our healthcare workers. Applause won’t pay your rent, or put food on your table, or pay for your transport to and from work.”
Deputy Pringle spoke in the Dáil today in support of the Sinn Féin Private Members Motion to ensure student nurses and midwives receive fair pay.
I spoke today about the need to #PayStudentNursesandMidwives
Fine Gael & Fianna Fáil encouraged the public to “clap for healthcare workers”. Applause won’t pay rent or put food on the table.
— Thomas Pringle T.D. (@ThomasPringleTD) January 20, 2021
Deputy Pringle said: “Last year, we had a number of discussions and debates on the issue of pay and conditions for student nurses and midwives, who have been putting their lives on the line during this unprecedented global pandemic.”
We are still in the grip of our expected third wave of the pandemic, he said, saying, “The situation is far more dire than it was last year.”
Deputy Pringle said: “‘All in this together’ had been a mantra for the Government since the start of this unprecedented pandemic back in March. However, ‘All in this together’ has been found to have a hollow ring to it, as the business lobbyists pushed for the economy to be re-opened, despite ongoing health risks to the public, and to our most vulnerable and to our frontline workers.
“The Government ignored NPHET advice prior to Christmas and Ireland is now being used as a cautionary tale internationally, for valuing businesses over our health service,” he said.
He noted that the Government commissioned two reviews into the pay of student nurses and midwives.
Deputy Pringle said: “The form of this Government is to leak information before allowing for proper debate, scrutiny and discussion. Of course, we first heard about the recommendations from Dr Tom Collins’s review on pay for placements during the Covid-19 pandemic on RTÉ.
“In the meantime, there are over 4,500 student nurses and midwives completing clinical placements requiring them to work 12-hour shifts for no pay. The Government is reportedly offering a €100 per week payment, based on this review. How can Opposition, unions and interested parties examine this recommendation when we haven’t yet seen the Collins review?”
The deputy said: “At the same time, the new Secretary General of the Department of Health is reportedly receiving a €81,000 pay rise, increasing the salary for this position from €211,000 per annum to €292,000. Who sanctioned this? Where did this idea come from and why is it being pursued when Mr Watt has already been working as the Secretary General in the interim?”
Deputy Pringle also questioned the €14.1m paid to a company called Roqu for ventilators from China which have not been, and will not be, used. “What a waste of vital resources”, he said.
Deputy Pringle said: “Rather than simply applauding our frontline staff, we must support our workers, appreciate our workers, value our workers and listen to the unions. I saw a tweet the other day that said that Ireland responded more coherently to the Covid pandemic at the start when we had no government.”
He concluded: “The consistent undermining of yourselves from within government ranks has shown the public that we are most certainly not all in this together. Many people have lost any faith, patience and confidence in this Government, your messaging and mishandling of this pandemic.”