NI midwives urged to vote in favour of industrial action

A pregnant womanA pregnant woman
A pregnant woman | jpimedia
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is urging its NI members to vote yes in a ballot starting today (6 January) on industrial action.

The ballot, which asks midwives and Maternity Support Workers (MSWs) whether they wish to take industrial action up to and including strike action, comes following exhaustive talks over pay and conditions with the Department of Health.

The ballot closes at midday on January 29, with the result announced by the RCM on the same day.

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Karen Murray, the RCM’s Director for Northern Ireland said: "We have exhausted every avenue over a number of years in trying to resolve this dispute with the Department of Health.

"Despite our best efforts to negotiate a fair pay deal for our members the department have failed to come to an agreement.

"Our midwives here are much worse off in their pay packet than their colleagues in other parts of the UK.

"This is simply neither right nor fair. That is why we are recommending our members to vote yes to industrial action."

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The RCM Board’s decision to ballot comes after nine years of pay restraint which has seen midwives and MSWs take a real term pay cut. Midwives in Northern Ireland currently earn up to £2,000 less than their colleagues in England, with an even wider gap when compared to midwives in Scotland.

Karen Murray added: "This is a decision taken after a great deal of thought and consideration. Midwives and MSWs work incredibly hard to provide safe and high-quality care for women, babies and their families.

"All the evidence shows that staff who feel they are valued by their employers deliver better care. Failing to pay our midwives and MSWs a fair wage shows that employers do not value them.

"A yes vote in this ballot will show employers that they have exhausted the goodwill of our midwives and MSWs that has kept our maternity services going. It is time to take a stand for fair pay.”