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Nursing chiefs in warning over industrial action amid pay dispute

Published 11/01/2016

Health unions have criticised both the substance of the pay award and how it was implemented, claiming they were not fully consulted
Health unions have criticised both the substance of the pay award and how it was implemented, claiming they were not fully consulted

Nurses' representatives have warned of the prospect of industrial action over an increasingly bitter pay dispute with Stormont's health minister.

The regional board of the Royal College of Nurses (RCN) said it will consult the union's ruling council to seek authorisation to ballot its members on action.

Local RCN representatives held an emergency meeting on Monday in response to last week's imposition of the 2015/16 pay settlement by Health Minister Simon Hamilton.

Mr Hamilton announced that the majority of healthcare staff would receive a one-off additional payment equating to 1% of their salary this year.

Health unions have criticised both the substance of the pay award and how it was implemented, claiming they were not fully consulted.

Any industrial action taken by the RCN would stop short of strike action, rather a work-to-rule form of protest, with steps such as a refusal to work unpaid hours.

After the emergency board meeting, Janice Smyth, director of the Royal College of Nursing in Northern Ireland, said members were "angry and frustrated".

"Board members considered the imposed pay award, the manner in which the minister made this announcement and the tone of the announcement," she said.

"They have considered the views and opinions expressed by members who contacted the RCN over the weekend, and taken account of the detail of the minister's announcement."

She added: "Today, members of the RCN Northern Ireland Board voted unanimously to consult RCN Council seeking authorisation to ballot RCN members in Northern Ireland in relation to the imposed pay award announced by the minister and taking industrial action short of strike action."

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