Health and social care workers in Unite voted 82.4 percent in favour of strike action and 91.1 for industrial action short of strike action over pay inequality and the staffing crisis
Department of Health must address pay equality demand and end staffing crisis and waste on private agencies
In the absence of an adequate response from the Department of Health to the demand for pay equality, Unite in Health’s four thousand members across the health service in Northern Ireland will now join with broader planned strike action on 18th December across the Health and Social Care service.
Kevin McAdam lead officer for Health congratulated his members on their turnout and commitment to defending themselves and the wider NHS.
“Only last year, health and social care staff celebrated seventy years since the foundation of our NHS – which when it was set up was the ‘envy of the world’. They did this despite the fact that day and daily NHS workers are required to go way beyond their contractual obligations in order to sustain the service – a fact testified by the estimated impact of a simple work-to-rule.
“Northern Ireland NHS workers are the poorest paid in the UK – a fact that has resulted in a chronic staffing crisis rooted in a failure to recruit or retain staff and the abject failure to bring forward workforce development. The consequences of this policy has been to raise dependency on locums and private sector staff agencies – which represents another scandalous waste of NHS funding that should be going towards frontline provision.
“The permanent secretary has acknowledged the need for changes and improvements. The fact that he hasn’t directed funds to deal with staff pay simply amounts to financial mismanagement of the health budget in Northern Ireland.”
Kevin McAdam who chairs the Trade Union negotiating team continued,
“Richard Pengelly talks of extensive negotiations yet he has yet to bother to join those discussions. Instead he chose to negotiate through the media and released a statement to the media while Unite members were engaged in an industrial action ballot. This was nothing more than a desperate attempt to influence our members. Wrong in so many ways!”
“Today with this overwhelming vote in favour. Our members have given Mr Pengelly his answer. Unite Ambulance drivers, Paramedics, Pharmacists, Community Practitioners and Health Visitors, Psychologists, Pathology Lab staff, Speech and Language Therapists, Health Scientists and workers in support services will join members of the RCN, Unison and NIPSA in taking a first twenty-four hour strike action set for December 18th.
“We call on Mr Pengelly to see sense and to deliver full pay equality and an end to the staffing crisis. End the waste on private staffing agencies and redirect NHS funds to front line staff and services!”