Health workers across NI, including radiographers, hospital pharmacists and laboratory scientists, to start 48 hour strike tonight

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4000 Unite members working in health and social care are to start a 48-hour strike from midnight tonight with pickets tomorrow (Thursday) outside hospitals across NI including Craigavon, Antrim, Lagan Valley and Daisy Hill.

The union Unite says that the health budget allocated to NI is ‘so inadequate’ that local health workers are ‘being denied pay increase offered in England and Wales’.

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Thousands of workers in the health sectors in Northern Ireland to take part in strike on Thursday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/PacemakerThousands of workers in the health sectors in Northern Ireland to take part in strike on Thursday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker
Thousands of workers in the health sectors in Northern Ireland to take part in strike on Thursday. Pic Colm Lenaghan/Pacemaker

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The Unite workers from the health and social care service will join with colleagues from other health unions in one of the biggest strike actions in years to affect the service. The 48-hour strike will start from 00.01am on Thursday lasting until midnight on Friday.

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A union spokesperson said the strike is ‘likely to impact health services across the region’.

He said: “Workers are striking over being denied the same pay offer provided to NHS workers in England and Wales; an outcome which will leave Northern Ireland NHS workers paid less than those employed anywhere else in the UK.

"Department of Health officials have told trade unions that they cannot pass on the ‘Barnett consequentials’, including extra funding, arising from the NHS pay increase in England to NHS workers in Northern Ireland because the overall budget set for the health service by Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris is too low.”

Unite General Secretary Sharon Graham said: “It is scandalous that NHS workers – who only a couple of years ago were being clapped by our politicians – are once again forced onto picket lines. The blame for this lies squarely with the Conservative Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Chris Heaton-Harris who has enforced a punitive and completely inadequate budget on the health department.

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“At the time when the Health Service in Northern Ireland is losing critical services due to staffing pressures, health workers in the region once again face being left behind on pay. That will only make recruitment and retention of staff even more difficult and redouble the staffing crisis. Our members will have Unite’s full support in their fight for fairer pay.”

Unite says that there is a ‘broader range’ of health workers striking, even more than in the Pay Parity strike of 2019. “Unite reports greater numbers of white-collar workers joining the picket lines,” said a spokesperson.

Unite Regional Officer Brenda Stevenson added: “We are seeing increasing numbers of radiographers, hospital pharmacists and laboratory scientists joining Unite to take part in the strike action.

“Strike action is always a very difficult choice for health workers to have to make but they are at breaking point. It is simply wrong that NHS workers in Northern Ireland face being left behind on pay. We are calling on the entire community to show their support for the fight for fair pay and safe staffing.”

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Unite the union will have picket lines at the following locations. Belfast Trust: Royal Victoria Hospital (Falls Road entrance); City Hospital (picket outside post grad), Mater Hospital (outside A&E entrance); Northern Trust: Antrim Area Hospital; Southeast Trust: Ulster hospital, Lagan Valley hospital; Down hospital; Ards hospital; Southern Trust: Craigavon hospital, Daisy Hill hospital and South Tyrone Hospital; Western Trust: Altnagelvin hospital, Gransha, Omagh hospital & South West Acute Hospital; NIAS: Musgrave Park Ambulance Station, Knockbracken (Saintfield Road entrance).