NHS workers join midwives to strike
The health service in Northern Ireland is to face increasing levels of disruption as ambulance workers and other NHS staff join midwives in taking industrial action over pay.
Members of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) will go on strike for four hours on April 30, followed by other forms of industrial action from May 1 to May 7, the day of the general election.
RCM members voted by 9-1 in favour of strikes - the first vote of their kind in Northern Ireland in the college's 134-year history.
A pay dispute in England and Wales was resolved, with most NHS staff receiving a 1% increase, but there was no deal in Northern Ireland.
The GMB has announced that its NHS members will take action short of a strike for two weeks from April 27, while ambulance workers in the union will ban overtime for a fortnight from April 28.
Denise Walker, GMB regional officer, said: "For the NHS there has been no movement by the minister or Health Department on dealing with the issue of pay for NHS workers in Northern Ireland - unlike the position in the other three nations.
"Since no attempt has been made to resolve the 2014/15 pay award and we are still waiting for the department to come back to the trades unions with their proposed framework to discuss pay for 2015/16, we have now issued notice to the five NHS trusts that our members will be taking part in action short of a strike."
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the Royal College of Midwives, said: "We took industrial action in England, and through that action won a victory for our members. We also negotiated a deal with the Welsh government. There is still time for the Northern Ireland Executive to come to the negotiating table to seek a solution. We are seeking urgent talks with the health minister.
"This result from our ballot is an unambiguous 'yes'. It could not send a clearer signal to those in power about the level of dissatisfaction among our members on this issue.
"Our members have suffered four years of pay restraint and many now face the prospect of another year.
"The RCM will be meeting with employers to discuss our action and to ensure that mothers and babies are not put at any risk. I want to reassure women expecting a baby that midwives will continue to look after them and that they will be safe."