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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

NI health workers vote for strike action with walkouts possible before Christmas

Hundreds of health workers in Northern Ireland have voted for strike action. 

GMB members working as nurses, ambulance workers, hospital porters, cleaners and caterers, clerical staff, technicians, care workers, social workers and transport workers voted to walk out by a margin of 86 per cent. 

The union will now meet with members to discuss next steps, with industrial action possible before Christmas. 

Health workers in Northern Ireland are angry over the lack of any kind of pay offer to help with the cost of living crush and unsafe staffing levels. 

Jim Donley, GMB Organiser, said:   

“This vote for strike action shows the NHS workforce across Northern Ireland are desperate. 

“They’ve faced years of real terms pay cuts, a deadly pandemic and now a crushing cost of living crisis. They're being pushed to the limit. 

“But more than pay - this is as much about patient safety. A third of GMB ambulance workers think delays they’ve been involved with have led to the death of a patient.  

“The NHS in Northern Ireland is on life support - the Westminster Government needs to provide urgent extra funding or the service as we know it will cease to exist.” 

RCN General Secretary and Chief Executive Pat Cullen said:

"Anger has become action - our members are saying enough is enough. The voice of nursing in the UK is strong and I will make sure it is heard. Our members will no longer tolerate a financial knife-edge at home and a raw deal at work.

"Ministers must look in the mirror and ask how long they will put nursing staff through this. While we plan our strike action, next week's Budget is the UK government's opportunity to signal a new direction with serious investment. Across the country, politicians have the power to stop this now and at any point.

"This action will be as much for patients as it is for nurses. Standards are falling too low and we have strong public backing for our campaign to raise them. This winter, we are asking the public to show nursing staff you are with us."

Responding to today's announcement a spokesperson for our the Department of Health in Northern Ireland said:

"The Department of Health acknowledges the outcome of the RCN ballot on industrial action. GMB members working in the NI health service have also voted for industrial action and ballots are ongoing at other health unions.

"The Department shares the frustration of NI health care staff at the ongoing absence of a pay award for this year. Due to unprecedented circumstances, we have been unable to progress with national NHS pay body recommendations for 2022/23. A NI public sector pay policy is not in place for this year and very significant financial pressures are facing this Department and the wider NI public sector.

"We will continue to liaise with the Northern Ireland Office in relation to our financial position.

"We greatly value our health care staff and very much regret that so many of them believe industrial action is necessary.

"NI’s health and social care system is planning for a very difficult winter period.

"In the event of strike action proceeding, the Department and HSC Trusts will work closely with trade unions with a view to protecting critical services as much as possible.

"However, there will inevitably be an impact on patient care, and further impairment of already highly pressurised services."


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