NHS workers in Northern Ireland prepare for strike action

UNISON members, alongside those from Nipsa, have not received any pay award this year

Two placards, the top is purple with the words 'OFFICIAL PICKET' in white capital letters, and the bottom half is white, with the UNISON logo on

UNISON members working in the NHS in Northern Ireland will be taking strike action on Monday 12 December in the ongoing battle for a pay rise.

Health workers in Northern Ireland have received no pay rise at all for 2022-23 after the Democratic Unionist Party withdrew from the Stormont executive earlier this year in protest over the Northern Ireland Protocol, part of the Brexit deal.

The UNISON members will be joined by colleagues in the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (Nipsa). Both unions began indefinite action short of a strike yesterday.

In England and Wales, NHS staff have been given a rise of at least £1,400.

Unions in Scotland are considering a government offer that averages 7.5%.

UNISON head of bargaining in Northern Ireland, Anne Speed, told BBC News’s Good Morning Ulster programme that members were seeking an “inflation-busting pay rise.

“Inflation is 11%, and a pay rise actually has to match that in order to protect workers,” she said.

“What’s being awarded is only half of inflation, and health workers are just frustrated, fed up, very disappointed and they’re choosing to speak out now.”

The unions were prepared to negotiate, added Ms Speed, but the responsibility falls on Northern Ireland secretary Chris Heaton-Harris, given the political stalemate at Stormont.

Both unions also want staff shortages addressed and say that, in the absence of devolved government, civil servants could agree to pay workers the recommended rate that has been granted elsewhere.