Many staff members in the NHS across NI go on strike for better pay and conditions
Health workers across the North were on the first day of a two day strike in large numbers showing their frustration with the UK government’s refusal to offer them parity of esteem with workers in England, Scotland and Wales.
At the Downshire Estate in Downpatrick today, a large picket emblazoned with banners, posters and placards send a clear message to the Department of Health, the Secretary of State for MNI and the UK government.
The growing militancy of health trade unions is a result of a wide number of factors.
Sonia Graham, Unison NI Joint Branch Secretary, said: “We have not yet had a pay offer to keep our wages up to a liveable level. Wages, already low, have depreciated more in the past year.
“In England workers there received a lump sum and a 5%rise for next year. This is not acceptable.
‘We have received nothing… no pay increase, no improvement on conditions… nothing.
“For this reason our members are striking today in large numbers to make our voice heard.
“These workers are striking from across the pay grades from many departments from low to high. Our workers have had enough.”
Unite Joins Picket At Downe Hospital
Unite representative Taryn Trainor said: “We are fed up of being the poor relation. in Northern Ireland.
“We are facing hardships due to the rise in cost-of-living, inflation at 6.7%. The Secerary of State for NI needs to intervene in this situation before the health service is permanently harmed.
“There are very significant equlaity issues here and the Secretary of State should be addressing this aspect of the health crisis.
“There will be a protest in Belfast tomorrow at 12.30pm and there will be thousands at it all calling for the powers that be to sit down with the health unions and sort thsi mess out once and for all.”
McGrath expresses solidarity with striking health staff
SDLP Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath has expressed his solidarity with health and social care staff taking industrial action this week.
Union members have begun 48-hours of strike action over pay and working conditions.
Mr McGrath said it’s deeply regrettable that staff have once again been forced to take to the picket lines.
South Down MLA Mr McGrath said: “The SDLP stands fully behind our health and social care staff who have once again taken the decision to commence strike action.
“No staff member wants to be out on a picket line on a cold September morning. They want to be in our hospitals and other health settings doing what they do best… caring for patients.
“They have been left with little choice due to a repeated failure to address their concerns.
“The cost-of-living emergency has heaped pressure on huge swathes of our society and our health staff are not immune from this.
“With prices skyrocketing, more and more hospital workers are struggling to pay their bills, heat their homes, put food on the table and keep up with their mortgage payments.
“During this difficult period our health staff have received no pay uplift and remain the lowest paid across these islands.
“I dearly wish we had functioning institutions at Stormont to address these issues.
“We have seen in the past how health staff pay has focused minds here.
“The Secretary of State should have intervened on this issue long ago.
“Our health staff have already waited far too long.
“Ensuring fair pay and working conditions for the people we rely in to keep us in good health in our most vulnerable moments is something that should be a priority for every party here.”
Sinn Féin stands with Public Sector workers in their fight for fair pay says Hazzard
Standing with workers from both our health and education sectors this week, South Down MP Chris Hazzard has called for Public Sector workers to be given fair pay as they once again take to the picket lines.
Mr Hazzard said: “Sinn Féin fully supports public sector workers in their fight for fair pay.
“These workers are at the coal face of delivering key public services, including health, education, and the economy.
“And once again they are forced out onto the streets by a Tory government who continue to deny them a fair pay deal.
“It is insulting that the British Government has cut Departmental budgets and that workers here are being denied the £1,500 compensatory payment that their counterparts in England and Wales have been offered.
“Sinn Féin calls on the British Secretary of State to guarantee local workers a fair pay award.
“The difficult situation we are experiencing is being exacerbated by the fact there is no functioning Executive as one party continues its reckless blockade in which workers and families continue to pay the price.
“The public’s patience is wearing thin.
“The DUP should get back to work with the rest of us around the Executive table to deal with the challenges we face.
“Our workers cannot wait any longer, they are working under ever increasing pressure and they need a locally elected Executive in place.”
Is it time for you to join a trade union in Northern Ireland ? Check out this link: