Northern Ireland: Health workers take action over understaffing and pay equality

Nurses marching for the NHS, photo Paul Mattsson

Nurses marching for the NHS, photo Paul Mattsson   (Click to enlarge: opens in new window)

25,000 hard-pressed healthcare workers in Northern Ireland – including nurses, social care staff and support services – took action at NHS sites on 25 November, demanding that their longstanding concerns over safe staffing levels and pay parity be addressed.

Health workers in Northern Ireland are paid less than their colleagues in England, Wales, and Scotland, as a result of not receiving the same pay awards by the Northern Ireland Executive under the now suspended devolved Stormont Assembly.

Unsurprisingly, 92% of Unison members in a ballot voted yes to strike action.

Given the suspension of the Assembly, it’s incumbent upon the department of health to end the staffing crisis and to pay health workers their just deserts.

The first phase of the action, which runs to 18 December, will involve all members taking action short of a strike and selective strike action by Unison members at five health and social care trusts.

The strikers will be joined by members of the RCN nurses’ union who voted for the strike action for the first time in their 103 year history.