Belfast Telegraph

Health staff strike concerns Poots

Strike action by health workers is deeply concerning, the Northern Ireland health minister has claimed.

Edwin Poots said he was disappointed after staff voted to walk out for a day on October 5 in a row over the treatment of workers.

Public service union Unison said the impact of frontline cuts has prompted the decision by health and education members. It will affect all health workers, except doctors, plus teaching staff, but Mr Poots said the action was unnecessary.

He added: "I am deeply concerned and very disappointed in the decision to strike. I believe this action will be counter-productive and will cause unnecessary disruption to our health service. We all want a better health service but taking strike action which will affect patients and staff is not the best way to achieve this."

The education and health departments are competing for funds amid a wider public spending squeeze.

A total of 18% of Unison members in Northern Ireland voted for strike action on October 5.

Unison general secretary Patricia McKeown said workers in many sectors were being stretched to the limit.

She added: "Our members are buckling under the strain of trying to deliver frontline services in the teeth of cuts the like of which they have never seen before.

"They may find themselves between a rock and a hard place on the amount of money which the UK Government has taken from the block grant - but they did not think through the implications of their decisions to slice the biggest amounts of money ever seen off both the health and education budgets."

She added that emergency cover will be provided in the health service.

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