Department of Health says 'planning is already under way to minimise any disruption' as midwives and maternity support workers go on strike next week
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The strike action will take place from 8am to 4pm on Friday, September 22 over pay and working conditions.
In addition, they will also be taking industrial action short of a strike by claiming payment for any overtime worked in the week following strike action.
They added that since "no progress towards a meaningful pay offer" in the last six months, midwives believe they are "being forced to take industrial action” and it has had a detrimental effect on staff’s “physical and mental health”.
In response, a Department of Health statement outlined that "planning is already under way to minimise any disruption" and that due to "severe budgetary pressures" they are "currently unable to make a pay offer to health and social Care staff."
The spokesperson also added that funding a pay offer would result in "large scale cuts on an unprecedented scale" and that "it is a regrettable position which all efforts are being made to address."
Moreover, the statement stated that whilst the Department “value the work” of midwives and maternity support workers “without significant additional funding being made available, any such offer will inevitably fall short of expectations.”
Midwives in Northern Ireland are the lowest paid in the United Kingdom and Karen Murray, the RCM’s Director for Northern Ireland, said: “No midwife wants to strike but what choice do they now have? Midwives are deeply frustrated by the lack of any progress by policymake rs and because of that they have been driven to take a stand for fair pay and safer care and maternity services.
"Maternity services are being kept open because of the selfless efforts of midwives and MSWs but they can only take so much.
"Morale is at rock bottom and staff face a real impact on their physical and mental health. Our members are taking a stand.”