Health Minister scraps plan for monthly wage packets

Michelle O'Neill scrapped the proposed change ater a meeting with staff
Michelle O'Neill scrapped the proposed change ater a meeting with staff

Planned changes to how health employees would have received their wages have been halted.

Sinn Fein Health Minister Michelle O’Neill, who took over from DUP minister Simon Hamilton in May, said on Tuesday that a move towards paying wages on a monthly basis – rather than weekly or fortnightly – had been stopped following a meeting ith staff.

It comes about five weeks after the public sector union Unison urged employees of the Belfast Health Trust to back a vote for industrial action over the changes.

The Department of Health said up to 12,000 staff could have been affected.

The union said carers, cleaners and caterers stood to be among the hardest hit.

Ms O’Neill said: “I want to reassure those people that I appreciate their financial concerns and I do not want to add to their pressures.”

Unison’s Patricia McKeown said budgeting for running a household on very low pay is easier when they receive a weekly or fortnightly pay packet.

She believes the changes had likely been proposed due to what she claimed were problems with the health payroll system, and also to cut back accounting staff.

She further claimed that the changes had been called for by the Department of Health, not the various health trusts, and that the push towards a monthly system had begun under Mr Hamilton.