UNISON Northern Ireland celebrates partnership working

Conference highlights benefits of union and employers working together

UNISON and health employers in Northern Ireland have been engaged in partnership work on a host of projects for the past decade. Many of the projects have been hailed by organisations such as King’s Fund as ground-breaking and unique. Some have won UK wide awards.

On 1 October, UNISON held a conference to showcase partnership successes and explore areas for new partnership work.

UNISON members, health service leaders, community and business organisations were among those attending the event.

Keynote speakers included the current and former CEOs of the Belfast Trust and union and employer leaders from the US Labour Management Partnership programme, which has worked closely with UNISON and the Belfast Trust.

Regional secretary Patricia McKeown said: “In a week when union reps in the health service have come under sustained attack for daring to exercise their legal rights to paid release for union work, this conference highlights the value of that work.

“By initiating partnerships with employers they have:

  • improved patient care;
  • improved the quality of life for care home residents;
  • tackled hospital cross infection;
  • improved the mental health status of health care workers; and
  • enabled long-term unemployed people to come off the welfare system and into decent work, adding millions of pounds to the local economy.”

And Ms McKeown added: “UNISON is determined to continue and expand this work even in the most difficult financial and political circumstances which currently confront our health and social care system, because we believe in our NHS and because it is time for change.”