NHS staff across Northern Ireland take third day of action in strike over pay

Health and social service workers stage latest 24-hour walk out

Health and social service workers across Northern Ireland are staging a third 24-hour walkout tomorrow in the ongoing dispute about pay and staffing, says UNISON today (Monday).

Nurses, ambulance staff, healthcare assistants, homecare workers, porters and staff in other NHS roles will be on picket lines and joining marches to five rallies taking place across Northern Ireland tomorrow.

NHS and care staff in Northern Ireland have so far staged a one-day strike in December and another last month (26 January).

Tomorrow is the third time they will have walked out. They’ve also been taking action short of a strike (working to their contracts and not doing any overtime) for several weeks too.

UNISON says Tuesday’s strike could be halted if the Westminster government would only talk to health unions and come up with the goods for a pay rise to resolve the dispute.

UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea, who will be visiting various picket lines and speaking at a rally outside Belfast City Hall, said: “No ambulance or NHS worker wants to be taking action. But the number of vacancies has become so great that they can no longer deliver safe patient care or maintain quality services.

“Strikes won’t be called off until health workers’ wages are boosted this year and talks held to negotiate the next rise due in April.

“Governments in other parts of the UK have shown what it’s possible to achieve with dialogue, and a commitment to boosting pay and tackling the staffing emergency.

“Ministers must change gear, find the funds to invest in the workforce, improve wages and resolve the dispute in the best interests of staff, the NHS and patients.”

UNISON Northern Ireland head of health Anne Speed said: “While the political stalemate continues health staff and patients are paying the price.

“Politicians in Northern Ireland should roll up their sleeves and act together in the interests of the health service. They should put pressure on Rishi Sunak and Chris Heaton-Harris to release the funding that could help end this damaging dispute.”

Notes to editors: 
– At 9.30am on Tuesday, health workers will join a march, alongside UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea, that forms up from picket lines at the Royal Victoria Hospital, the City Hospital, Greenpark, the Mater Hospital and various other health locations across Belfast. They will head towards City Hall for a rally where they’ll be joined by teachers, who are also on strike tomorrow. Rallies are also taking place tomorrow in Bangor, Ballymena, Omagh and Derry.
– For media interviews with Christina McAnea while she’s in Belfast, contact John Patrick Clayton on 07508 080386.
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union and the largest union in the NHS and in the Ambulance sector. It has more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in Education, Local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.

Media contacts: 
Liz Chinchen M: 07778 158175 E: press@unison.co.uk
Anthony Barnes M: 07834 864794 E: a.barnes@unison.co.uk