Northern Ireland news

Healthcare workers in Northern Ireland demand movement on deal after new NHS England pay offer pauses industrial action

Healthcare staff pictured at a picket line during a strike at Belfast's Mater Hospital in January
Paul Ainsworth

HEALTH unions in the north have demanded movement on a new pay offer to end industrial action, after their counterparts in England reached a deal with the UK government that could halt strikes by frontline staff.

NHS workers in England, including nurses and paramedics, have been offered a one-off payment amounting to 2% of their salary, along with a Covid recovery bonus of 4% for this financial year, and a 5% raise for 2023/24.

For a newly qualified nurse, the deal would mean they receive over £1,800 extra this year, and a rise of over £1,300 next year.

Ongoing industrial action by NHS staff in England will be paused while union members are balloted on accepting the offer, which has been recommended by three unions - the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), Unison, and GMB - while Unite said it did not recommend it to its members.

However, the pay offer does not apply to Northern Ireland, where NHS strikes by Unison members are set to take place on March 31 and April 3, while all NHS trade unions here remain in dispute on pay.

Healthcare staff have taken to picket lines for strikes in December, January and last month also.

Unison's Anne Speed said: "Our members are currently on extensive action short of strike in every workplace. They will want guarantees that they will not be left behind."

She added it would be "unconscionable that health staff who carried us so valiantly through the Covid pandemic would remain undervalued and underpaid".

In a joint statement following Thursday's NHS England offer, Unison, Unite, Nipsa and RCN Northern Ireland demanded answers on when workers on this side of the Irish Sea would see movement towards a new deal.


"This raises questions for trade unions on how and when our members will be made an offer," they said.

"Health unions in Northern Ireland are asking if new money is available. We have heard that the Barnett formula will apply and we are now asking if funding will fully cover a deal for our members in our integrated health service.

"We now insist, in the absence of an NI Executive and a health minister, that the Secretary of State and the Northern Ireland Office (NIO) answer this important and pressing question."

An NIO spokesperson told the Irish News that pressures affecting the north's public services "demonstrate the pressing need to have locally accountable political leaders in place to take fundamental decisions on these services and deliver better outcomes for the people of Northern Ireland".

They added: "It remains the Secretary of State's hope that the parties will recognise the importance of getting back to work so that an Executive is in place to take the decisions and action needed to address the challenges facing the public sector at this critical time."


Northern Ireland news