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Irish Nurses Poised To Strike

October 19, 1999

DUBLIN, Ireland (AP) _ Nurses in Ireland pledged to hold their first nationwide strike after union leaders and the government’s health minister failed Monday to resolve a showdown over pay.

The government has insisted that more than 27,000 nurses in the Irish Republic’s state-run health system must accept a court-mediated pay package offering them an average 23 percent pay raise. The four unions representing nurses insist that’s not enough and have promised to withdraw from all duties except emergency care starting Tuesday morning.

Health Minister Brian Cowen emerged from three hours of negotiations emphasizing the government’s refusal to concede more to the nurses. He argued that to do so would only invite a wave of strikes by Ireland’s other major state employee unions, since wages have been set in a comprehensive wage-restraint package called Partnership 2000. That pact commits nurses to receive lower pay levels than other work sectors, such as teachers and firefighters.

Advertisements by hospitals in Monday’s newspapers warned that no services outside emergency care would be available starting Tuesday at most of the country’s hospitals.

The government took out its own ads, arguing the case for the nurses to stick to the agreement they made three years ago under the terms of Partnership 2000, which is due to expire next September.

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