Health service strikes: Unison action to begin on Monday

The first wave of strike action in the Northern Ireland health service is set to start on Monday, the trade union Unison has announced.

Wednesday, 20th November 2019, 7:34 pm
Hospitals across Northern Ireland could be impacted by strike action

Nurses and other health workers are taking industrial action over pay and staffing levels.

Two trade unions – the Royal College of Nursing and Unison – have now announced specific dates for strike action.

And there could be further trouble to come for the crisis-hit service with another two unions – Unite and the Royal College of Midwives – currently balloting members on possible industrial action.

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Unison announced today that the “first phase” of its industrial action will begin on Monday and run until December 18.

The Royal College of Nursing, meanwhile, had announced last week that the first ‘targeted’ strikes by its members would commence on that date, exactly one week before Christmas.

Unison, the largest trade union in the Northern Ireland health service which represents nurses, ambulance service staff and a range of support workers, said all its members will take industrial action short of a strike from Monday onwards.

The union said the first phase of strikes will be taken by specific groups of workers at different locations across Northern Ireland over different time periods and on different days.

This phase, from November 25 to December 18, will involve staff working in sterile services across all major hospitals; hospital and social services transport services across the Belfast and Northern health trusts; support staff working in areas such as domestic services, portering, catering and laundry in the Ulster Hospital and Lagan Valley Hospital; and portering services in Craigavon Hospital.

The next phase of industrial action by Unison will begin on December 18.

It is understood Unison and the Royal College of Nursing are in discussions to co-ordinate industrial action involving nurses.

Patricia McKeown, Unison regional secretary, said: “None of the workers involved have taken the decision lightly. They are determined to fight for justice on both pay and staffing levels.”

The Department of Health has said it is “finalising” contingency plans to deal with the industrial action.