Council vows to back healthcare workers as union holds protest

Unison protestors at Craigavon Civic Centre
Unison protestors at Craigavon Civic Centre

Healthcare workers are to be recognised annually by Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council.

And the council is to meet with the Southern Health Trust chief executive to highlight concerns about working conditions.

Sinn Fein Cllr Catherine Seeley, who brought the motion before council, thanked all the parties for their support.

She said she had been contacted by many nurses under huge pressure in their workplace.

“In addition nearly nine attacks on ambulance staff take place every week here. In 2018/19 paramedics were attacked a total of 452 times. Such assaults can cause long term physical and mental harm on those we rely on most when we ourselves or our loved ones take ill and reach for the phone.

“I also wish to recognise health care workers on the whole including our domiciliary care workers. They are holding our hospitals, GP surgeries up. They are the life blood of our healthcare system. And we are working some of them to the point of ill health. In the North nearly half our nursing staff report working 8 or more additional hours of unpaid work every week. Attempts to secure more staff and better pay through formal channels have failed to date and it is sad that industrial action is now the choice they are facing.

“We will now meet the Chief Executive of our Trust, write to the Health Departments Permanent Secretary and hold an annual recognition event.”

Meanwhile Unison activists held a protest outside the monthly ABC Council meeting at the Civic Centre.

Spokesperson John Creaney said the union was calling for fair pay for all NHS workers who he said are the lowest paid in the UK.