UNISON Northern Ireland wins battle over salary payments

Union calls off strike ballot, for now, after health minister halts damaging move to monthly payments for health workers

UNISON Northern Ireland celebrated a victory this week as health minister Michelle O’Neill halted the introduction of monthly salary payments to replace weekly and fortnightly ones.

The move would have meant many healthcare workers facing a real squeeze on their finances, with a particularly adverse affect on women, low-paid and part-time workers.

But the minister decided not to change the system, after she attended a meeting with frontline healthcare workers and unions, hosted by West Belfast MP Paul Maskey.

UNISON has now suspended a ballot of members for industrial action.

Patricia McKeown, UNISON regional secretary, said: “We note that the minister has ‘halted’ the move to single pay frequency rather than completely abandoning it. Consequently, UNISON will halt our strike ballot.

“Many changes need to be made to health service pay, including the introduction of a living wage and the need to tackle the fact that health workers in Northern Ireland have fallen behind the pay levels of their counterparts in Great Britain.

“The minister’s decision now clears the way for meaningful negotiations on these key issues.”