UNISON Northern Ireland pauses health strike after government offer of talks

Escalation of strike action ‘finally got the message through’

UNISON Northern Ireland has paused today’s planned strike action by healthcare workers following the decision by the government to come to the negotiating table.

Northern Ireland Secretary Chris Heaton-Harris and Department of Health representatives have agreed to meet health unions on Wednesday.

UNISON demanded confirmation that such a meeting will be a “genuine engagement” and will result in negotiation to produce a meaningful offer it can take to members.

The move comes after four months of industrial action, including four full-day strikes across the health and social services system. Hundreds of healthcare staff across Northern Ireland went on strike last Friday, 31 March.

UNISON Northern Ireland secretary Patricia McKeown said on Friday: “Our members’ determination to escalate strike action today and again on Monday finally got the message through to those in power. Health workers across Northern Ireland will not be left behind.

“The mood of strikers at Belfast City Hall this morning, outside the Secretary of State’s office, and on picket lines across Northern Ireland is one of utter determination to secure their rights.

“They never take industrial action lightly. They care about our health and social services and the public they serve, but they have been driven to the brink.

“Their message now is equally clear– this must be real, or the strike action will escalate.”