Belfast Telegraph

Health workers to launch pay strike

Beleaguered Northern Ireland health workers are to strike over pay next month.

The trade union, Unite said it would stage a four-hour walk and that staff would adhere to a strict 37.5 hour-a-week work to rule regime.

Kevin McAdam, regional lead officer for health with Unite, said there had been overwhelming support for the industrial action which will start at 7am on October 13.

"Our members have demonstrated that they are not prepared to be held hostage by the Northern Ireland political deadlock and the debacle that is the Executive committee at this time. Our hard-working members continue to deliver the service the public expects of them and for that they feel entitled to a decent pay rise."

Unite represents about 4,000 healthcare workers in Northern Ireland including nurses, therapists, porters, paramedics, medical secretaries, cooks, cleaners and healthcare assistants.

Mr McAdam said the walk-out was aimed at achieving the 1% rise paid to all 1.3 NHS staff; to ensure government respects future PRB recommendations; and to secure a living wage for the 40,000 NHS staff being currently paid below the £7.65 an hour threshold across the UK.

He added: "The Pay Review Body (PRB) has made a recommendation and we expect the Northern Ireland Assembly to at least implement that recommendation. We are calling on the incoming Health Minister, Jim Wells, to urgently review this situation and implement the PRB award to include the introduction of the living wage."

Former health minister Edwin Poots, who was replaced in a DUP reshuffle this week, claimed he was facing a £140 million funding deficit even though his department was protected from £78 million worth of cuts imposed on other areas of public spending and had an extra £20 million added to its budget.

Mr Wells has said he intends to "strongly" argue the case for additional money in the October monitoring round when Stormont budgets are reviewed.

The Unite strike will coincide with mass industrial action by healthcare workers in England.

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