Health workers in Northern Ireland stage Grinch protest in pay dispute

Health workers have brought their pay protest to the front door of the Northern Ireland Office headquarters in Belfast. Unison representatives, with one dressed up as the Grinch, delivered Christmas cards from health staff and their families addressed to Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris at Erskine House. Public sector workers in the region are involved in a long-running pay dispute.

Mr Heaton-Harris outlined the details of a £2.5billion financial package to Northern Ireland’s political leaders on Monday as part of an attempt to stabilise the region’s finances and encourage a return of the power-sharing institutions. The package includes a lump sum to settle public sector pay claims, but requires the return of the Stormont Executive. Unison health convenor Stephanie Greenwood said thousands of working families are facing Christmas without an increase in pay. She said: “In effect we are grappling with a pay cut during a year when inflation reached 11%. “The cost-of-living crisis has hit health staff hard. We got no help from the politician now in charge of Northern Ireland. “Instead, he introduced a draconian budget and stood back as the Treasury withheld Barnett consequential funding which could have gone to support workers.” Ms Greenwood added: “Working families are fed up, but we will not be going away. “We intend to be on the picket lines with thousands of public sector workers on January 18.” The Northern Ireland Office has been approached for comment.

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