Unison health workers set to be balloted on industrial action

Unison said its members "need a decent, fair pay rise" in the face of the cost-of-living crisis

Unison the union is set to ballot health workers in Northern Ireland on industrial action.

The ballot comes after a recommendation from a pay review body, which the union said is insufficient to cover the needs of health workers.

The independent review body recommended that health service staff in the UK should be awarded a pay increase of £1,400 for 2022/23, earlier this year.

Northern Ireland's Health Minister Robin Swann previously warned that the pay increases can't be implemented without an agreed budget at Stormont.

Unison said the Westminster Government has not made additional funds available to the health service in Northern Ireland.

The union's regional secretary Patricia McKeown said: "The Pay Review Body has made a recommendation that won't help our members pay their bills in the face of the cost-of-living crisis.

"That's why we have no alternative but to move to ballot our members for industrial action.

"Not only is the recommendation of the Pay Review Body inadequate, but worse still, Government at Westminster have made no money available to ministers in Northern Ireland to fund a pay rise.

"Unison is not prepared to have our members be abandoned when they have done so much over the last two-and-a-half years in dealing with the pandemic.

"In the face of the cost-of-living crisis, our members need a decent, fair pay rise."

Back in August, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in Northern Ireland announced that it was joining colleagues across the UK in balloting for strike action.

Nurses in the rest of the UK have never gone on strike before, but their counterparts in Northern Ireland took industrial action in 2019.

Health Minister Swann previously stated that the level of funding required to meet pay demands of health workers would require the Westminster Government to make more available to administrations across the UK.

He has said he does not currently have the money to implement the recommendations of the independent panel on health workers' pay, never mind the additional uplift which the unions are seeking.

Stormont has no agreed budget for 2022/23 due to the ongoing political stalemate regarding the Northern Ireland Protocol.

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