Ógra Fianna Fáil has called on the government to rethink what it describes as a “deeply unfair graduate nursing recruitment scheme”.
At a recent meeting of the Ógra Fianna Fáil National Council, members condemned the scheme, which will see 1,000 graduate nurses recruited at 80% of current salary rates, calling it a government attack on graduates. The Council said the government is leaving fully qualified graduates with little other choice but to emigrate abroad to find work.
Commenting on the scheme, President of Ógra Fianna Fáil, Éamon Quinlan said: “It is unrealistic for the government to expect fully qualified graduates to accept such a huge reduction in pay compared to those they will work alongside.
“It is extremely weak of the Minister to rely on his own claim that this is ‘necessary’ to provide work experience for college graduates. All graduates have already been through intensive onsite training in order to qualify. This is simply a case of the government seeking to exploit college graduates, following Minister Reilly’s disastrous handling of the health finances since he was appointed.
Quinlan said graduates are frustrated and angry at how they are being treated by the HSE and Minister Reilly and condemned the Minister’s plans to extend the scheme to other areas within the HSE.
“Ógra Fianna Fáil strongly opposes the practice of employing new entrants to the public service on a massively reduced wage. It is unreasonable to expect new entrants to have to undertake the same job as others, but to receive only a fraction of the standard wage for doing so. Minister Reilly claims that the scheme was introduced with the aim of preventing emigration. However in reality, by indicating that graduates are poorly valued, the Minister is effectively pushing young people out the country.”
Speaking to The College View, Chairperson of DCU Ógra Fianna Fáil, Fintan Phelan said:”Despite the PR tactics of the government, this scheme is in reality not creating any new jobs rather it is replacing existing agency jobs and is in effect a cost cutting exercise targeted at our highly qualified nursing graduates.”
Phelan said these graduates should be appreciated, “not threatened by our Minister for Health to accept the scheme or work in fast food outlets.”
Chairperson of DCU Socialists Party, Derek McKenna also condemned the scheme, telling The College View: “It is an exploitative scheme which is designed to hold a gun to heads of new graduates. The threat is take a job on reduced pay or emigrate.
“We would urge all new graduate nurses to stand strong with INMO and we would also urge DCU student’s union to condemn this government scheme and to support student nurses.”
Ryan Hunt, Chair person of DCU Young Fine Gael said it is “blatant opportunism” by Fianna Fáil to condemn the scheme. “The scheme is a direct result of the limitations future governments face since Fianna Fáil signed the Croke Park agreement.”
However Hunt added: “I do empathise with nursing graduates as I would have preferred to see the savings made in other areas. The reality is that this is not possible given the terms of our bailout.”
The scheme has also been criticised by the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation (INMO) who organised a boycott of the scheme.