Nurses are in talks at the Labour Court in a last ditch bid to avert a 24-hour strike on Wednesday.

The Labour Court is trying to determine if there is a basis to formally intervene in the dispute.

The Chairman of the court, Kevin Foley, invited the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation and Psychiatric Nurses Association to attend discussions this evening.

The INMO has accepted the invitation but strike preparations are continuing.

Arriving for talks, General Secretary of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions Patricia King said she had been invited by the court’s chairman for an “exploratory” discussion on the dispute.

“I’m certainly not going to predict what’s going to happen but we’re certainly going to have a full I would say an open discussion with the chairman to let him now where we’re at,” she said.

When asked what has changed since last week’s failed talks at the Workplace Relations Commission, she said she did not know.

“We’re going to have to go in and have our conversations with him and obviously the employers will do likewise,” she said. She said she was “always hopeful” a resolution could be found.

Earlier, Tánaiste Simon Coveney pleaded for compromise as he insisted the Government was doing everything possible to avoid the all-out nurses strike on Wednesday.

Mr Coveney – speaking in Cork at a Capita Customer Solutions jobs announcement – warned that while the Government are examining options to resolve the nurses pay and working conditions demands, Ireland cannot afford the consequences of breaching public sector pay deals.

But he acknowledged the concern the threatened strike action has caused for patients and the elderly across Ireland with more than 40,000 nurses set to back the strike action.

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The strike is set to coincide with a weather alert as freezing temperatures sweep across Ireland.

“Of course we are concerned – an all-out nurses strike on Wednesday would cause very, very significant disruption for patients. We don‘t want to see that,” he said.

“We respect nurses and indeed nurses unions. They are great people – doing a very difficult job and I hope that we will be able to find a way of avoiding strike action on Wednesday.

“By working with nurses unions to find a way forward that they can accept but that is also consistent with the wage agreements.”

The Tanaiste said that with Ireland facing uncertainty over Brexit and other global economic challenges, the country must stick to public sector pay guidelines.

“The country simply cannot afford to breach agreements that we have already put in place across the public sector generally,” he warned.

“This is about trying to show some willingness to reach out on both sides to find a way forward that is consistent with the public sector pay agreements and I hope that we can make some progress on that.”

Online Editors

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