4000 health and social care workers to commence 48-hour strike from midnight across NI
More than 4000 Unite members working in the health and social care service in Northern Ireland will join with colleagues from other health unions in one of the biggest strike actions in years to affect the service.
The 48-hour strike will commence from 00.01am on Thursday, 21st September, lasting until midnight on Friday and is likely to impact health services across the region.
Workers are striking over being denied the same pay offer provided to NHS workers in England and Wales; an outcome which will leave Northern Ireland NHS workers paid less than those employed anywhere else in the UK.
Department of Health officials have told trade unions that they cannot pass on the ‘Barnett consequentials’, including extra funding, arising from the NHS pay increase in England to NHS workers in Northern Ireland because the overall budget set for the health service by Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris is too low.
Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said:
“It is scandalous that NHS workers – who only a couple of years ago were being clapped by our politicians – are once again forced onto picket lines. The blame for this lies squarely with the Conservative Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris who has enforced a punitive and completely inadequate budget on the health department.
“At the time when the Health Service in Northern Ireland is losing critical services due to staffing pressures, health workers in the region once again face being left behind on pay. That will only make recruitment and retention of staff even more difficult and redouble the staffing crisis. Our members will have Unite’s full support in their fight for fairer pay.”
A broader range of health workers are striking than even in the Pay Parity strike of 2019. Unite reports greater numbers of white-collar workers joining the picket lines.
Unite Regional Officer Brenda Stevenson added:
“We are seeing increasing numbers of radiographers, hospital pharmacists and laboratory scientists joining Unite to take part in the strike action.
“Strike action is always a very difficult choice for health workers to have to make but they are at breaking point. It is simply wrong that NHS workers in Northern Ireland face being left behind on pay. We are calling on the entire community to show their support for the fight for fair pay and safe staffing.”