Mandate supports INMO calls for masks to be worn in public

Tuesday 29 March 2022

Mandate Trade Union is supporting calls from the INMO for the public to wear masks in indoor and crowded settings, including public transport and retail outlets.

In a letter to the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Phil Ní Sheaghdha, General Secretary of the Irish Nurses & Midwives Organisation (INMO) explained how our public healthcare system is experiencing overcrowding and severe pressure due partly to the removal of the mask mandate.

“Since the mask mandate was removed on February 28th, we have seen 8,953 patients without a bed in Irish hospitals. 27% of those who have been without a bed in our hospitals since the mask mandate was dropped have presented at our hospitals since last Monday (21st March 2022). This is staggering,” said Ní Sheaghdha.

She continued by explaining how many healthcare workers are not receiving basic workplace entitlements “with recent surveys showing 98% of members in Emergency Departments were unable to leave work on time, and 91% stating they were working or available during their scheduled breaks.”

In a plea to all trade unionists, Ní Sheaghdha said:

“The links between mask-wearing and decreasing COVID transmission are well established. In absence of government taking action and responding to the calls of the INMO, we believe it is imperative now for the trade union movement to do what the Government will not and call on people to go back once again to basics – wear masks when indoors, on public transport and in a crowded setting.”

Mandate supports the call from the INMO for solidarity during the busiest time in our hospitals since the pandemic began.

Gerry Light, Mandate General Secretary, “There are two key issues at play here. Firstly, our healthcare system is crumbling under the severe pressure that has been brought partly by the government’s decision to end the mandatory wearing of masks. This has led to the cancellation of elective procedures and will increase hospital waiting lists. Covid is still with us and the dangers of it are very much still there too.”

“Secondly, all workers have an entitlement to their basic rights at work including being able to finish our shifts and take a break in the knowledge that we aren’t endangering patients or other workers. We all celebrated our essential frontline workers at the beginning of the pandemic – including nurses and retail workers – so now is the time for all of us to show some solidarity and respect and play our part in protecting our healthcare system and the workers who have risked their lives over the last two years,” he added.

Light concluded: “We are calling on all Mandate members and the public to please wear masks in crowded settings including shops in order to protect yourselves, your colleagues, your relatives and our frontline workers.”

Read the full letter from Phil Ní Sheaghdha here.