Health workers to vote on strike action

Union protestors outside Craigavon Area Hospital last year
Union protestors outside Craigavon Area Hospital last year

More than 2,000 union members at Craigavon Hospital plus other health workers are to be balloted on strike action next week which could lead to the biggest day of industrial action in years.

Workers across the health spectrum are expected to vote over pay and budget cuts, including laundry staff, porters, nurses, radiographers and administrative staff.

Health care support workers, transport staff, pharmacy staff, midwives and lab technicians are some of the other workers who will be voting on whether or not to strike on March 13.

These workers, as well as clinical psychologists, canteen staff, managers and maintenance staff will be receiving ballot papers from February 6. The ballot will close on February 26 and the first day of action is to take place on Friday, March 13.

John Creaney, Unison branch Chair for Craigavon Hospital, said: “It’s time for us to take our placards and make a stand as health workers in Northern Ireland and prepare for industrial action.

“Unison will agree emergency cover making sure nurse and other health workers can take action safely and responsibly.

“It is important to vote yes for industrial action as you don’t see the politicians in Stormont give off about their pay rise of 11% when we can’t even get our 1% pay rise that was recommended by the Pay Review Body.

“Stormont seems to be able to find billions for other things at the drop of a hat, but not for us while we care for the most vulnerable.

“It is time for health care workers to stand united with one voice, standing shoulder to shoulder,” said Mr Creaney.

Unison is also calling for the NI Executive and the NI Assembly to urgently rethink the planned 2015-2016 budgets for health and education amid concern over what they will mean for public services.

The budgets were released by each government department and outline cuts and ‘cost saving measures’ for public services.

UNISON has reviewed each budget and has responded to the consultation outlining what it means for its members and the people of Northern Ireland.

The union believes that the planned budget cuts will mean that 1,000 teaching posts and 1,500 school support staff are at risk, with £160 million more cuts planned in health 
resulting in unsafe staffing levels and 1,000 fewer 

The union is urging both the Executive and the Assembly to scrap the budgets for public service departments now.