'Frustrated' healthcare staff set date for industrial action in Northern Ireland

Striking health workers in Northern Ireland in August 2022. Source: UTV
NHS staff in Northern Ireland have yet to receive a pay increase for the 2022-23 financial year. Credit: UTV

Healthcare staff in Northern Ireland are to begin industrial action over pay and conditions next week, a leading trade union has announced.

Unison said "frustrated and angry" members across the health trusts and bodies will commence action on Monday 5 December.

According to the union, NHS staff in Northern Ireland are "now the lowest paid part of the UK NHS workforce".

While staff in England and Wales have been given a rise of at least £1,400, health workers in Northern Ireland have yet to receive a pay increase for the 2022-23 financial year.

Anne Speed, Head of Bargaining and Representation, said: "They have seen and heard the remarks of the Secretary of State as he announced his setting of the financial budget for Northern Ireland.

"They noted that while admonishing NI politicians for failing to restore the Executive and the Assembly he had nothing to say to the thousands of health workers awaiting a pay rise since last April."

The union has added that next week's action will be short of strike however further action is planned for Monday 12 December.

Ms Speed continued: "We wrote two weeks ago to the Secretary of State on their behalf pointing out that pay parity had once again been broken. He has not replied.

"The assumption that health workers will just suck it up is a foolish one. They will not. They cannot afford to. The cost of living crisis is biting deep.

"Workers are not willing to be pawns in the resolution of the political issues. All trade unions want devolution restored without delay."

It comes after the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) announced its members will stage their first ever national walkout on Thursday 15 December and Tuesday 20 December.

Ms Speed added: "Staff recruitment and retention will spiral into further difficulty. A decent pay rise may convince those bailing out of the service to stay. Health service users also rely on our efforts to stabilise and maintain a workforce.

"Strike action is also planned for December 12th and employers will be advised in the coming days of the full scope of this action."

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