October 7th: Unite members are to take strike action commencing on Monday 13th October with a walkout from 11am to 2.30pm over the failure of the Health Minister to make a pay offer to staff. Healthcare workers from across Belfast will gather at Stormont for a protest at 1pm.
Unite’s Regional Lead Officer for Health, Kevin McAdam, defended the rights of his members to take action for a pay increase:
“It is regrettable that our members are being forced into taking this action in order to obtain the one per cent pay increase recommended by the independent NHS Pay Review Body.
“Our members will always put patient-safety first and therefore proper emergency cover will be provided; however, we will not tolerate employers demanding additional cover for non-emergency work.
“Repeated surveys highlight the fact that staff give an average of eight hours unpaid overtime to the NHS every week. In addition to the strike, our members will be withdrawing this unpaid cover in a work-to-rule which will commence for four weeks from midnight on 13th October to midnight on 9th November.
“This action will see our members simply arrive at work on time and leave on time, taking standard meal breaks. Members will not exceed their contractual working arrangements. We are asking them to not write notes outside of paid hours as this is work. We realise that as a result of staff cuts the NHS has become dependent on the goodwill of our members but this will now be legally withdrawn.
“We are asking managers to adjust workloads to ensure that additional pressure is not put on staff and that they can work in a safe way.
“Even at this late stage we call for the Health Minister Jim Wells to move quickly to fulfil the NHS Pay Review Body recommendations and address the issue of poverty pay in the NHS. We remain committed to dialogue in order to resolve this dispute”, Mr McAdam concluded.