Health Workers To Walk Out

The trade union Unison has said the impact of 'front-line cuts' have prompted a one-day strike by its members next month.

All their members in health and education will stage a 24-hour walkout on 5 October in what they said would affect all health workers - except doctors and teaching staff.

The NI Health Minister Edwin Poots has however expressed serious concern over the decision to take strike action.

The DUP Minister said: "I am deeply concerned and very disappointed in the decision to strike. I believe this action will be counter-productive and will cause unnecessary disruption to our Health Service. We all want a better Health Service but taking strike action which will affect patients and staff is not the best way to achieve this.

"Unison in Northern Ireland has failed to explain clearly the reasons behind their strike," he added.

The Minister went on to point out that the union had not exhausted all options and said: "My door is always open and I am always prepared to talk to those who represent the healthcare workforce – that is how to get things resolved. Instead, I am disappointed that they have chosen to take drastic action that will cost the health service money and affect patients."

Mr Poots continued: "I fully appreciate the excellent work of our health service staff who work tirelessly to provide a high quality health service in very challenging times," concluding: "It is only a fraction of the workforce that voted for strike who are seeking to disrupt our health service on 5 October."

The strike action comes soon after the Unison Nurses Forum met to finalise the detail of the strike and how it would impact nursing staff.

Eoin Stewart and Marion Ritchie commented: "Taking strike action is a last resort for nurses, but the situation for many of our nursing staff has now reached breaking point.

"We have grown increasingly concerned about the conditions nurses are expected to work under and about the standard of care they are able to provide.

"Nurses' professionalism is under pressure and nurses can no longer remain silent about the effect that staff reductions, stress and cuts are having on patients, their relatives and themselves.

"Nurses are under pressure to fill gaps, to take more work on, and not to complain and are made to feel guilty about raising concerns.

"The truth is that patient care could be compromised and that staffing levels are so bad now it is a strain to give even basic nursing care to patients," the two senior union officials said in advance of today's strike announcement.

Then, today, Unison's Patricia McKeown said the Stormont Executive had to rethink its strategy on budget cuts.

Ms McKeown said: "We are at a critical stage in many areas, I think of one health trust that has just produced its figures."

Reasons 'Unclear'

The Strangford DUP MLA Simon Hamilton has this afternoon expressed his regret that the Unison trade union has called strike action for 5th October.

Mr Hamilton who is the Assembly Private Secretary in the Department of Finance and Personnel said that reasons for the strike had not been outlined clearly or the actions which could be taken to result in the strike being called off.

"It is disappointing therefore that Unison have called this action whilst the exact reasons behind it remain in question and there have not been any proposals put forward which could result in the strike being cancelled," he said.


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

16 April 2019
Fire Service Lowers 'People At Risk' Age To 50 And Older
The Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) has lowered the age group of those deemed most at risk from accidental house fires to people aged 50 and older. It follows the death of 19 people in the last three years, 17 of which were aged over 50. Nine of the victims were aged 50-59 and a further eight were 60 and above.
05 April 2019
Workers Urged To Join The Active Travel Challenge
Employers across Northern Ireland are being encouraged to sign-up to the Active Travel Challenge for a healthier and more environmentally-friendly commute. The Department for Infrastructure, Public Health Agency, Sustrans and Translink have joined forces to launch the new initiative which will take place throughout June.
08 April 2019
HPV Vaccine To Be Extended To Boys
Boys aged 12-13 in Northern Ireland will soon be offered a vaccine to help protect them against Human Papillomavirus (HPV) and other related cancers. It comes as the Department of Health makes two significant health protection announcements today, Monday 08 April.
04 April 2019
Other News In Brief
Van Morrisson To Play Live Botanic Gardens Gig Belfast musician Van Morrison is set to play a live show in the city this summer. Live At Botanic Gardens will see a series of concerts held in the picturesque gardens. Van, whose music spans generations, will play his gig on Sunday 23 June. Tickets will go on sale at 9am on Monday 08 April.
10 June 2002
Royal Mail workers go on unofficial strike
Royal Mail workers at Belfast’s Tomb Street depot are currently engaged in unofficial strike action over the return to work of a manager who allegedly assaulted an employee. Around 350 workers walked out this morning in response to the decision made by Consignia to reinstall the manager to frontline supervisory duties.