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Northern Ireland midwives suspend strike ballot after 'positive' pay offer

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The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) have suspended their ballot for industrial action

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) have suspended their ballot for industrial action

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) have suspended their ballot for industrial action

The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) has suspended its ballot for industrial action after "intense negotiations" with Health Minister Robin Swann.

Mr Swann promised to give health staff pay parity with workers in the rest of the UK. He also promised to increase staff levels to address concerns around patient and staff safety.

Midwives and maternity support workers will receive pay parity backdated to April 1 2019. RCM is set to consult with its members, but will recommend they accept the offer.

A consultation of RCM members on the outline agreement will start on January 20 running until February 3.

GMB is the only union yet to respond to the Department of Health's pay offer.

It is understood the union has concerns that the offer doesn't go far enough in terms of safe staffing levels.

GMB staff are set to strike on January 24 followed by continuous action short of a strike from January 25.

NIPSA has rejected the offer, saying the majority of its members would not benefit from the package on the table.

A spokesperson said the union would consider further selective strike action and increase industrial action short of a strike.

First Minister Arlene Foster, deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill, Health Minister Robin Swann and Finance Minister Conor Murphy brief the media on the health crisis.

RCM director for Northern Ireland Karen Murray said that the settlement offer was "hard won and hard fought for".

"We have negotiated intensively on behalf of our members to get to this point. Within just a few days of the Assembly restarting we have got a fair pay deal on the table for our members," she said.

“We are recommending our members accept this offer and I urge them to respond to our consultation. This is a very positive step forward after falling behind other UK health workers on pay. Our actions and that of other unions has put pressure on the government and led to this agreement.”

Mrs Murray said that the government had finally recognised how important midwives and maternity support workers are and "the contribution they make to the wellbeing of women."

"It shows that by taking a stand and using the power of unions and our members we have got a fair pay deal for our midwives and maternity support workers," she said.

RCM joined the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) and Unite, who suspended their planned strike action following the offer.

Unison is also balloting members over Mr Swann's proposals and recommending they accept.

Belfast Telegraph