Civil servants urged to give NHS staff 1% pay rise in Northern Ireland
Two of Northern Ireland's most senior civil servants will today be urged to sign off on a 1% pay rise for health service workers here.
An SDLP delegation will meet the head of the Civil Service David Sterling and the Permanent Secretary for Health Richard Pengelly to urge the immediate release of funds.
Although the Government has stated that it would prefer the Executive to be in place to make such decisions, the power to release the £26m in funds now rests with Mr Sterling.
SDLP health spokesperson Mark H Durkan said: "The SDLP believes that not another day should go by without these health sector workers receiving their long-awaited pay rise.
"Once we became aware that the money available for the pay rise could be allocated by the NI Civil Service, the SDLP contacted the head of the Civil Service so that this matter could be resolved.
"Today we will be urging the Head of the Civil Service and the Permanent Secretary for Health to immediately release the additional money to give these workers the pay rise they deserve."
Mr Durkan continued: "Across the public sector, our workers are being denied fair pay. This situation cannot continue. We will be making the case not only for health workers but for all workers to get a fairer deal.
"All political parties now must unite together and make government here work. The British Tory Government certainly won't save our public services and protect our public sector workers. It's down to us and it's about time all political parties lived up to their responsibilities."
Meanwhile, SDLP leader Colum Eastwood called for the formal resumption of talks to restore Stormont as the Brexit negotiations continue.
The Foyle MLA said: "The progression of the Brexit negotiations requires our full and immediate attention. As legislators here in Northern Ireland we have a responsibility to inform, shape and direct the outcome of those negotiations.
"A functioning Executive and Assembly will ensure that the voices of the people of the North are not forgotten but are instead front and centre of any discussions relating to the island of Ireland."
Mr Eastwood added: "The challenge that Brexit presents is surely the basis to resume talks to restore Stormont.
"The time has long passed for the political stalemate to end."