Midwives and civil servants in Northern Ireland vote yes to industrial action
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Karen Murray, Director for Northern Ireland at the RCM, said: “That so many of our members have voted to take industrial action is a reflection of their growing anger and frustration at a pay award that goes nowhere near to making up for a decade and more of pay freezes and pay stagnation.
"The current political situation has left services rudderless for far too long, with no maternity strategy and no plan to drive improvements in maternity care for women and working conditions for midwives, MSWS and their colleagues. Not only is this taking a heavy toll on our members, it’s ultimately impacting care for women.”
In a formal ballot that closed today over nine out of ten (93.9%) midwife and maternity support worker (MSW) members of the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) voted for industrial action short of a strike, based on a turnout of 55% of eligible RCM members working in the HSC.
On the question are you prepared to take industrial action consisting of a strike, nearly 9 out of 10 (89.09%) voted yes.
Ms Murray said: “This pay award and the growing crisis in our maternity services will do nothing to keep midwives in our maternity service, as many say they have had enough and will simply head for the door. We must see an improvement in pay for our members and we must see political action here in Northern Ireland and in Westminster to resolve the political crisis so that we can then turn to solving the maternity crisis.
"Our members are exhausted, fragile and burnt out. This is terrible for them and is having an impact on the care they can deliver for women, babies, and families. A solution to these issues must be found, and soon.”
Any decision to take industrial action must be approved by the RCM’s elected board. The RCM will now look at the result of the ballot and consider the next steps.
Meanwhile, in another dispute over pay GMB members working for the civil service have voted for strike action.
Up to 200 workers will walk out in anger at the 2% pay award from the NICS which they say is the worst pay offer of any public sector workers.
GMB represents members in Road Service, Rivers Agency and Forestry along with the Environment Agency. Strike dates will be announced in the coming days.
Alan Perry, GMB Organiser, said: “GMB members working for NICS have overwhelmingly voted in favour of taking industrial action.
"They are angry and feel insulted over what is the worst pay offer of any public sector workers
“GMB will now meet with members and other unions to agree next steps.”
The news of strike action comes in the same week when GMB and other unions agreed to suspend national ambulance strikes which were due to take place yesterday (Monday) and tomorrow (Wednesday).
After months of waiting, the Health Secretary wrote to unions within hours of GMB ambulance workers announcing they would reduce emergency cover on strike days.
The Department of Health and Social Care has now agreed to discuss pay for both this year and next year – as well improvements to other terms and conditions.