Strong support among health workers for strike actions, says NI union official

John Creaney of Health Service Union, UNISON
John Creaney of Health Service Union, UNISON

A top NI union official says there is strong support for a strike among health care staff including nurses.

John Creaney of the Craigavon branch of UNISON said members will be balloted on industrial action, including strike action, on October 21 and the result of that ballot will be known three weeks later.

He said staff to be balloted include those working in laundry, porters, catering staff, administration staff, clerical staff, health care support workers, lab staff, radiographers as well as nurses of all grades across NI.

Mr Creaney said staff wanted parity of pay with their colleagues in England, Scotland and Wales.

“Staff here are around 10 percent worse off than colleagues across the water. Because of that, many nurses opt to join agencies as it pays better. That means that employing agency staff is putting a strain on the budget and resources.

He pointed out that one nursing agency, the Scottish Nursing Guild, was paid more than £43m over the last five years - although it was not used by the Southern or Western Health Trusts.

“They (government) say the have no money yet they can spend it on agency nurses.

“If they stopped out-sourcing nursing jobs and paid the nursing staff a decent wage, it was help.

“I have been out speaking to members and they want to strike. They have had enough with the pressure of work and the increase of patients on wards.”