Thousands of health workers to receive pay increase
MORE than 55,000 health workers are close to receiving a one per cent pay rise.
The backdated pay award is to be made "as soon as possible".
The move is expected to end a dispute about releasing money to health and social care staff.
A 1 per cent uplift was recommended this year but was delayed in the absence of a public sector pay policy for 2017/18.
The Department of Finance announced yesterday that the pay policy had now been determined. It will limit pay increases to one per cent for public sector workers.
This, along with the allocation of £26 million last month, clears the way for the 2017/18 rise for more than 55,000 people.
It applies to groups including hospital medical and dental staff, doctors and dentists in public health and the community health service.
Department of Health permanent secretary Richard Pengelly said "workers are our most valuable asset".
"They deserve to receive the hard-earned pay which is owed to them. I fully understand the frustrations and uncertainty about pay caused by the absence of a pay policy," he said.
Arrangements to make the backdated pay award are to be put in place as soon as possible, the department added, with full implementation expected before the end of the financial year.
Trade union Unite said it was a welcome development.
"We have sought long and hard to remove the log-jam that left healthcare workers bewildered as they heard £26m had been allocated to cover the costs of a one per cent pay increase - but that this could not be released in the absence of an Executive minister," said Unite's Kevin McAdam.
"The pay increase, meagre as it is, will be backdated to April 1 of this year and will be worth approximately £300 to workers. The delay in providing the pay increase was completely unnecessary.
"While this announcement is welcome, it is completely inadequate. Healthcare workers are still seeing their pay decrease year-on-year."
The Department of Education also said it welcomed the pay policy.
Teaching unions have been involved in industrial action over pay.
A department spokeswoman said the confirmation by the Department of Finance set the parameters for public sector pay awards.
"The department hopes that, with this clarification, the current industrial dispute with teaching unions can be resolved and schools can return to normal working," she said.
"Management side of the Teachers' Negotiating Committee will be in contact with the teaching unions soon to progress this matter."