Health Workers Press Ahead With Strike Action

Healthworkers across Northern Ireland will press ahead with strike action for pay parity and safe staffing levels today.

Members of the Royal College of Nursing will take to picket lines for the third time, joined by other Unison workers.

The action comes as the UK and Irish governments published a draft deal to restore powersharing at Stormont, with parties expected to either accept or reject the proposals later this afternoon.

NI Secretary of State Julian Smith said any agreement would immediately end the health action with pay parity, a new action plan on waiting times and reforms on health and social care.

Despite the development, the unions have confirmed they will press ahead with action in the meantime.

Pat Cullen, Director of the RCN in Northern Ireland, said: "Nurses do not want to be standing again on picket lines, losing another day's pay, and feel totally let down that they have been put in this position yet again.

"Our members are absolutely determined to fight for a health service that patients in Northern Ireland deserve. Nurses have shown courage and resilience during this dispute and will continue to do so until we can achieve a system that is fit for purpose."

Though there has been speculation about a political resolution in Northern Ireland being imminent, the RCN will not make any decisions on standing down industrial action until it has written confirmation that its requirements for full funding for pay parity and safe staffing will be met in full.

The next scheduled dates for strike action are Monday 20, Wednesday 22 and Friday 24 January.

UNISON Regional Secretary Patricia McKeown added: "There may be some hope of resolution but we are not there yet.

"As health workers take strike action again today, it is painful to hear the Secretary of State confirm publicly that the money to restore parity and rebuild the service is now on the table but will be removed if there is no political agreement. This is a cynical abuse of the sacrifice made by the many thousands of UNISON members over the past three months and the hardship endured by patients and health workers alike for many years."

Both unions will continue the action as they await further developments at Stormont.


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