Parties asked to sign up to health pay parity

Action must be taken to resolve issues in the health industry, a trade union has said as its members prepare to strike tomorrow.

By The Newsroom
Tuesday, 17th December 2019, 7:00 am
Updated Saturday, 1st February 2020, 1:56 am
Unison Protesters for Nurses pay  at Stormont on Monday, as Northern Ireland's political parties have resumed talks aimed at restoring devolved government at Stormont. 

Photo: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press
Unison Protesters for Nurses pay at Stormont on Monday, as Northern Ireland's political parties have resumed talks aimed at restoring devolved government at Stormont. Photo: Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker Press

Members from all four health unions – Unite, Unison, Nipsa and the RCN – will strike over a lack of pay parity and unsafe staffing levels.

Tens of thousands of members will strike for 24 hours including nursing staff, homecare workers, support services and paramedics.

Political parties were involved in talks yesterday with the secretary of state to restore the Stormont Assembly.

Patricia McKeown, regional secretary for Unison, said the dispute should be “resolved immediately, regardless of whether an Executive is to be formed or not”.

“We await action from them,” she added.

“In the meantime, Unison leaders from across the health service are at Stormont demanding direct action and presenting messages of support from the public.

“We have rejected the Department of Health’s proposals up to now as they do not restore pay parity. The Department of Health has tabled no new proposals to us.

“We will not allow our members, patients or the public to be used as any form of political leverage in an attempt to restore the devolved institutions at Stormont.”

Kevin McAdam, Unite lead officer for health, said he believes a key part of the political talks should include a “cross-party commitment” to restore “pay parity for NHS workers in Northern Ireland”.

“Today’s multi-party talks offer some hope for a return to a functioning or accountable devolved administration,” he added.

“In advance of the recent elections, all local political parties committed themselves to a position to restore pay parity for NHS workers in Northern Ireland.

“This would be the clearest sign that the parties are committed to work together for the good of all the citizens.”

The British Medical Association, Royal College of Emergency Medicine NI, Royal College of Surgeons of England, Royal College of General Practitioners (NI), Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Psychiatrists NI, the Royal College of Radiologists UK and the Northern Irish Board of the Royal College of Anaesthetists – which collectively represent thousands of medical and nursing professionals in Northern Ireland – also issed a joint statement calling for healthcare reform.

“As organisations representing the medical and nursing community here we see the reality of this fractured system every day and watch patients suffer. As a society we must do better,” it said.

“We urge political parties to put patients first; break the stalemate, restore our government and transform our health service without further delay.”