Belfast Telegraph

Health workers’ union rules out postponing strike action

Members of several unions will take part in the action, which comes after a long-running dispute over pay and staffing levels.

The unions are in a dispute with the Department of Health over pay parity with the rest of the UK and staffing numbers (Liam McBurney/PA)
The unions are in a dispute with the Department of Health over pay parity with the rest of the UK and staffing numbers (Liam McBurney/PA)

By Rebecca Black, PA

A trade union representing health workers has indicated they have no plans to postpone strike action later this week.

Friday will see health workers from a number of unions take part in walk-outs across Northern Ireland.

It will follow action by Royal College of Nursing (RCN) nurses planned for Wednesday.

The unions remain in a dispute with the Department of Health over both pay parity with the rest of the UK and staffing numbers.

The chief executives of the six health trusts in the region have urged unions to postpone strikes planned for January 8 and 10, warning the fall-out could be “much more serious” than the December 18 strike.

On Monday the department’s permanent secretary, Richard Pengelly, asked the unions to call off the action and take part in fresh talks to resolve the situation.

Previous talks in December failed to reach agreement.

Anne Speed from Unison said the union does not intend to postpone the planned industrial action on Friday.

“Patient safety has been a primary consideration throughout our members’ industrial action and remains so,” she said.

“The crisis in our health service caused by over 7,000 vacant posts and the absence of a strategic investment and planning on staffing is one of the two core reasons for this dispute.

“Assessing patient safety is the responsibility of the Trusts. As has been the case throughout the conduct of this dispute, Unison representatives are meeting with the Trusts and will continue to do so to address specific concerns around patient safety.

“We would again call on the Trust chief executives to urge the secretary of state and senior officials within the Northern Ireland Civil Service to act now in the public interest to restore pay parity and resolve this dispute.”

PA

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