07/01/2020

Health Chiefs Call For Talks To Avoid Strike

Health officials have issued a direct appeal to trade unions for talks to avert strike action planned for later this week.

Northern Ireland's top health official said dialogue rather than industrial action represents the best way forward on staffing issues.

Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly's plea comes as nurses from the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) prepare to stage their second day of strike action over staffing levels and pay.

The situation deepened further this week as local midwives began voting on whether to take part in industrial action as they fight to achieve pay parity with the rest of the UK.

Mr Pengelly said recent demands issued by the RCN for safe staffing can provide the basis for serious engagement. Discussions had previously concentrated on pay.

He commented: "We have repeatedly made clear that our door remained open for discussions – with the specific aim of drawing up a detailed, costed implementation plan on staffing.
News Image
"We see no good reason why such dialogue cannot begin immediately. Deferring strike action would be in the best interests of patients and patient safety and would provide the necessary space for fresh dialogue.

"Our hospitals are already under severe pressure at present, even before the planned industrial action takes place this week."

Mr Pengelly reiterated the Department's position on pay parity as a matter for consideration by a Minister.

"That is a position that cannot be changed by industrial action," he continued.

"In terms of political resolution, all main political parties have already publicly supported the calls for parity with England, and talks are ongoing about restoration of the devolved institutions. It is only that process that can provide the mechanism for a sustainable solution on pay.

"In that context, we would encourage unions to reflect on what possible objective could be served by further industrial action at this time."



(JG/CM)

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

18 October 2002
NI firefighters balloted over strike action
UPDATE: Firefighters across the UK have voted in favour of holding strike action in the next stage of their dispute over pay. The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) members voted to begin their industrial action on October 29 - the first firefighter's strike in Britain for 25 years.
24 May 2021
Hovis Workers Agree Increased Pay Offer
A majority of Hovis workers have accepted an increased pay offer and strike action has now ended. Unite the union welcomed the offer and said it was as "decisive victory for workforce achieved through collective organisation and industrial militancy".
25 November 2015
700 Tesco Drivers To Vote On Strike Action
Over 700 Tesco drivers at distribution hubs in Belfast and Doncaster are to ballot for strike action next week over a pay dispute. The firm announced a pay offer of 0 per cent for 2015 and 1.5 per cent for 2016. The strike vote follows a 91 per cent rejection of the pay offer across the three sites.
08 February 2002
Royal Mail workers threaten strike action
A national postal strike could be on the cards if Royal Mail workers pursue industrial action in support of a 5 per cent pay rise.
05 May 2022
NI Has UK's Lowest Disposable Income
The average discretionary spending power of NI families fell to £127 per week in the first quarter of 2022 – 13.3% (almost £20 per week) less than the same period a year ago and £108 below the UK average of £235. The figures are revealed in Asda's latest Income Tracker report (March 2022) which is independently compiled by Cebr. The 13.