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Northern Ireland NHS strike

Thousands picket over low pay and patient safety
Ryan Fletcher, Wednesday, December 18th, 2019

Unite health members in Northern Ireland joined thousands of other NHS workers on picket lines across the region today (18 December) in a dispute over pay and patient safety.


In one of the biggest health service strikes ever seen, around 15,000 nurses and health care staff, including 4,000 Unite members, went on strike for 12 hours, following weeks of industrial action over the same issue.



Unite lead officer for health in Northern Ireland, Kevin McAdam, said NHS staff in Northern Ireland are getting a raw deal compared to the rest of the UK.


For example, in Northern Ireland a newly registered nurse earns £1,419 less than a nurse performing the same role in England or Wales and £1,875 less than in Scotland and for some specialist nurses the pay disparity can reach as much as £4,677.


“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,” McAdam said.


“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.”


Unite regional secretary Jackie Pollock joined striking health care workers on the picket line outside Mater Hospital in Belfast.



He said, “After months and years off negotiations with all the unions inside the health service in Northern Ireland, we’ve made no progress. We’re still lagging behind the UK in regards to pay and staffing levels.


It’s unfortunate that we have to take this action but we’ve had great support the public.”


Unite member and pharmacist Erika Hughes was one of those on strike today in Northern Ireland.


She tweeted, “Pharmacy staff stand shoulder to shoulder with nursing and other colleagues to fight for safer services & pay parity in Northern Ireland.”



  • Pic by Erika Hughes

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