The leader of Sinn Féin on Waterford Council has branded the Government’s refusal to pay student nurses a fair wage as shameful. Councillor Conor McGuinness represents Waterford on the HSE Regional Forum.
“Despite the huge stress and pressure of working on the frontline at the heart of this unprecedented health crisis, thousands of student nurses stepped up to be key workers and to protect our communities by doing real work in hospital wards across the country.
“I have friends that have have been on placement as student nurses throughout this pandemic. I know the level of work that are doing in our health service, and the risks they are taking.
“The very reasonable and moderate demand of student nurses is that they would be paid for the work they carry out. Not only are they not paid for working full-time hours and 13 hour shifts, but they have also been forced to give up part-time jobs they have elsewhere.
“TDs from Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil and the Green Party, including two from Waterford, voted against the Dáil motion to pay student nurses for their work. To add insult to injury Fianna Fáil attempted to explain their shameful position by stating that student nurses don’t do “real work”.
“How out of touch can a party be? Do the Government TDs, who have awarded themselves three pay rises already this year, really believe that rounds of applause are enough?
“During the worst of the pandemic student nurses worked alongside other healthcare workers. They went into wards every day despite knowing the potential risks to themselves and their families because they wanted to play their part in serving the wider community.
“The student nurses that I know are very proud and very dedicated. They have chosen to be nurses because they want to provide care to others. But they are exhausted and feel completely exploited. Many are anxious and fearful about paying their rent, mortgage or basic bills.
“This is a shameful and exploitative way to treat essential workers who form the backbone of our healthcare system and who have worked so hard and with such bravery to protect us all.
“Rounds of applause and kind words don’t pay the rent or the bills. The Government has badly let our student nurses down and it is totally unacceptable.
“Sinn Féin will continue to stand up for our healthcare staff and their right to access fair pay. The Government must be held to account for this shameful decision.”