Irish psychiatric nurses refuse overtime work
Psychiatric nurses in the Republic of Ireland are to begin an overtime ban on Thursday following a pay dispute.
The move is part of an escalating campaign of industrial action by the 6,000 members of the Psychiatric Nurses Association.
The nurses will initially refuse to work overtime on Thursday, Friday and on 5, 6 and 7 February.
They will then escalate their industrial action to full strikes on 12, 13, and 14 February.
Strike action by the Irish Nurses' and Midwives' Organisation (INMO) over pay and staff shortages, which ended at 08:00 GMT on Thursday, has resulted in around 25,000 patients having their appointments cancelled.
The Health Service Executive is to begin cancelling procedures for next Tuesday as it discusses contingency plans with the INMO for the nurses' next 24-hour strike.
The Irish government has said the nurses' pay claim is unaffordable and breaches the public service pay agreement.
Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, PNA General Secretary Peter Hughes said there is a huge reliance on overtime in the mental health services.
He said it was not clear as yet what impact the ban on overtime will have, but he said many community services may be affected and senior nurse management may have to work to provide cover.
Mr Hughes said the problem with recruitment and retention of nurses would not go away.
While the Public Service Pay Commission has said it does not believe that pay has anything to do with the retention of staff, Mr Hughes disputes this, saying vacancy rates had increased by 40% over the past year.
The Bring Them Home campaign launched last year resulted in only six psychiatric nurses returning from the UK, he said.