Northern Ireland news

Union chiefs in Northern Ireland demand pay increase awarded to English NHS workers

Janice Smyth, head of the Royal College of Nursing
Seanín Graham

TRADE union leaders across Northern Ireland are to lobby the Department of Health for a 6.5 per cent pay deal announced yesterday for English NHS workers.

Nurses, porters and paramedics are among the one million staff in England being offered increases over the next three years.

The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in the north last night said it "expected" the same deal to be implemented for its members while Unite and Unison said it was "vital" we do not fall behind.

However, when asked to comment on its position, the Department of Health yesterday referred the matter to the Department of Finance, saying: "Any consideration of pay issues for 2018/19 and beyond will need to be taken in the context of public sector pay policy for Northern Ireland, which is a matter for the Department of Finance."

Finance officials then batted the issue back to the health service, releasing a statement saying: "Public sector pay is a devolved matter that is determined locally and Pay Policy has yet to be set for 18/19. When this is in place, it is for Departments to bring forward pay proposals for approval."

Kevin McAdam of Unite warned that a failure to bring the north's 55,000 healthcare staff into line with pay awards given to their colleagues in England, Scotland and Wales will impact on recruitment and retention.

The English deal was formally agreed by union leaders and ministers and will cost £4.2bn.

Janice Smyth, RCN director, said "It is essential that nurses in Northern Ireland not only receive the same pay deal as their colleagues elsewhere but also that the deal negotiated here redresses the pay inequality to which nurses here have been subject for far too long. This is what we will be working to secure over the coming weeks."

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