Northern Ireland NHS staff and social workers back strike action, says UNISON

Safe staffing and pay were ballot focus

Health staff and social workers in Northern Ireland represented by UNISON have today (Monday) voted overwhelmingly for industrial action.

The ballot concentrated on safe staffing levels and pay parity, as health workers in Northern Ireland are paid less than their colleagues in Britain.

The absence of both has been a key factor in waiting lists and waiting times reaching crisis levels for patients across Northern Ireland, according to UNISON.

UNISON Northern Ireland regional secretary Patricia McKeown said: “Health workers don’t take industrial action lightly but they’ve been pushed to the brink.

“Responsibility for averting this situation lies with the Department of Health, the head of the Northern Ireland civil service and the Department of Finance.

“They must access the funding necessary to resolve the pay problem and start addressing safe staffing levels as a matter of extreme urgency.”

Notes to editors:
– A total of 92 per cent of staff represented by UNISON who responded to the ballot voted for industrial action.
– The first round of industrial action is expected before the end of this month.

– Examples of the deficit (annual pay rates)
Porters and cleaners
England & Wales £17,652
Scotland               £18,383
Northern Ireland    £16,943

Health care assistant
England & Wales £18,813
Scotland               £19,945
Northern Ireland    £17,406

Administrative worker (e.g. medical secretary)
England & Wales £21,089
Scotland                £22,152
Northern Ireland    £19,951

Nurses and paramedics
England & Wales £24,214
Scotland £24,670
Northern Ireland £22,795

Senior nursing staff
England & Wales £30,401
Scotland £30,401
Northern Ireland £27,772

– UNISON is the UK’s largest union, with more than 1.3 million members providing public services – in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in both the public and private sectors.

Media contacts:
Anne Speed, Northern Ireland head of bargaining M: 07904 427133
Sophie Goodchild T: 0207 121 5555 M: 07767 325595 E: