SIPTU and other health sector unions have asked Department of Health officials to examine whether an attempt by the Nurses and Midwives Board of Ireland (NMBI) to increase members’ retention fees from €100 to €150 next year breaches the Haddington Road Agreement. The retention fee issue was raised by union representatives at a meeting of the Health Service Haddington Road Oversight Body held on Wednesday, 29th October. SIPTU Health Division Organiser, Paul Bell, said: “At the meeting the union side stressed the requirement, within the Haddington Road Agreement, that in return for acceptance of the agreement, there would be no further costs incurred by staff. We asked the Oversight Body to ensure that this aspect of the agreement is honoured. “After discussion the Department of Health representative, at the Oversight Body meeting, asked for further time to review the issue.  He committed the Department of Health to an early meeting to discuss this issue, as previously requested by the unions. This meeting is expected to take place next week”. Paul Bell added: “SIPTU members are asked not to pay their NMBI retention fee increase and cancel any direct debits for this purpose. Our members have suffered significant financial reductions over the past number of years including pay cuts, the imposition of levies and the Universal Social Charge.  “They are not in a position to pay increased fees to NMBI, an organisation which has attempted to impose an increase of nearly 70% in the retention fee over the last two years. The unions hold a collective view that the fee should be maintained at the current level of €100. In due course, we will advise members of when and how they should pay this €100”. Nurses and midwives will hold a public protest, to coincide with the next meeting of the NMBI board, which is scheduled for Tuesday, 18th November. This protest will begin at midday outside NMBI Headquarters, 18/20 Carysfort Avenue, Blackrock, Co. Dublin. SIPTU nurses and midwives are also being asked to send in individual letters of complaint to NMBI outlining their reasons for opposing the rise in the retention fee.