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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Effective political leadership could have avoided upcoming industrial action - Swann

Ulster Unionist MLA Robin Swann has spoken of his ‘huge concern’ about the potential impact of major industrial action, planned for Thursday 18th January.

Comparing the situation to early 2020 when in his recently appointed position as Minister of Health for Northern Ireland his very first act in a newly restored Executive was to restore pay parity for health workers, Mr Swann said that a similar determination and demonstration of political leadership could have avoided this week’s unprecedented disruption.

Robin Swann said:

“Public services across Northern Ireland have suffered the most from the latest collapse of the Executive in 2022 and the subsequent void of any political or budgetary certainty.

“No one that I talk to thinks that the country is in a better position now than we were almost two years ago, instead there has been an evident deterioration in public services. As a former Minister of Health, I’m especially concerned about what I have been witnessing and hearing across the health service and especially here in the Northern Trust area where so many patients and so many staff are now facing record challenges.

“Whilst there have been so many problems and so many missed opportunities in the time from the latest collapse of the political institutions, few people have lost out as much as our public sector workers.

“At a time of record cost of living increases, public sector staff such as health service workers saw their real pay fall by over 7%. That’s compared to private sector workers where typical full time pay, despite record rates of inflation, increased by 1.4% in real terms.

“At a time when so many public sector workers performing essential services such as keeping our communities safe, our young people educated and our roads maintained, it’s simply unsustainable and totally unfair to expect them to carry-on indefinitely without receiving the pay awards that in most cases they’ve already been told they deserve. There is a palpable anger coming from many that I have spoken to. As a result of political failure, they are being left with no choice but to take a stand, and I will never criticise them for that.

“Yet the consequences of Thursdays industrial action are likely to be profound. Not only will many thousands of families across Antrim be directly impacted, but the disruption to the delivery of key public services will be enormous.

“What makes the situation so frustrating is that I am quite certain that it would have been avoided had been an Executive and locally accountable Ministers in place.”


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