NI health pay increase possible by November

A 3% pay rise could be in Northern Ireland health staff’s pockets by November, a key trade union negotiator has said.

Monday, 16th August 2021, 6:23 pm
Health Minister Robin Swann met with trade unions on Monday

Anne Speed, from Unison, was speaking to the News Letter after a meeting with Health Minister Robin Swann on Monday.

Wales and England had offered a 3% pay increase to all health workers over a fortnight ago, while Scotland had already offered a 4% uplift.

Ms Speed told the News Letter Mr Swann had told unions it is “his intention” to offer a 3% increase.

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But the Unison official said only part of that pay rise has been budgeted for, with the rest likely to come from the next ‘monitoring round’ in October when unspent Stormont funds are redistributed.

“It is his intention to pay it [the 3% uplift],” Ms Speed said following the meeting.

“It would appear that 2% has already been put in the budget, so they will have to find the additional 1%.

“The Executive will be back at the beginning of September and there are indications if money is to be made available it will be in the October monitoring round, which means that it could be in pay packets by November.

“That’s the minister’s sharing of the timescale as he sees it.”

She said the offer, once it becomes formal, will still have to be accepted by Unison and other trade unions.

The Royal College of Nursing announced its intention last week to ballot members in England on the 3% offer.

Ms Speed said staff are likely to be disappointed with the proposed increase.

“From the unions’ point of view, we will consult with our members when we have a definitive position on the table that is officially confirmed,” she said.

“No doubt, health workers are just as disappointed in Northern Ireland as they are in other parts of the NHS that it was only 3%.

“They will be asked what they think of it, and the next steps will be from there.”

She urged politicians to “step up” to ensure funding is there to pay for the increase in the absence of financial backing from the Treasury in London.

“In the meantime the heavy lifting has to be done by the political system to ensure that funding is available and they really do need to listen to the expectations of the workforce. They need to be listening to the points that have already been made about the cost of social care.”

Unison regional secretary Patricia McKeown, meanwhile, said: “All parties and elected politicians know what is needed.”

She added: “Health staff have given so much over the last 18 months, they deserve to have their hard work and commitment valued.”