Health members in Northern Ireland plan further industrial action

Health service organisers meeting today at UNISON Northern Ireland HQ were finalising plans to co-ordinate industrial action, starting at 8am on Monday 27 April and running over a two-week period to 8pm on Sunday 10 May.

As the biggest health union, UNISON expects thousands of its members across all health service settings to respond to the call to withdraw additional, voluntary, unpaid and goodwill time that they have been contributing.

There are widespread reports that staff are demoralised, feeling exploited and undervalued and are completely frustrated at being taken for granted.

Anne Speed, UNISON NI head of bargaining and representation, commented: “Our members are already putting their shoulders to the wheel in holding up a creaking, dysfunctional and over bureaucratised health service. They have taken to the streets for months now in solidarity with and giving strong support to communities resisting cuts to services.

“Now they have to deal with the added insult of a pay deal for last year, which was the worst across the four NHS jurisdictions, and no offer at all for 2015/2016. Their actions over the next two weeks should illustrate the huge amount of goodwill and the big contribution they make in delivering a health service.

“Our members are saying to all who come to their door canvassing for votes that a health service is not an optional extra. It is essential to maintain a decent society and must be funded appropriately. 

“That means ensuring that those who work to deliver good care must be paid at a level that allows a decent life. Low pay, high levels of stress and poor working conditions will not sustain delivery of good care and services.

“When these two weeks are over, any extra time called for and unpaid will be logged and we will be bringing the bill to the employers and to the minister.

“In the meantime, employers and the department need to step forward with a meaningful response on pay. Workers in the NI health service are not prepared to remain at the bottom of the list.”