Members of the Royal College of Midwives in Northern Ireland are to be balloted about taking industrial action over pay.
Following a consultation with members, RCM leaders made the unanimous decision to formally ballot of those working in the Health and Social Care Services in Northern Ireland.
Nearly 90% of members who took part in the consultation exercise said they were prepared to strike and 95% were prepared to take action short of a strike.
The RCM’s 1,200 members in Northern Ireland will now be balloted from 30 March to 20 April, with potential industrial action expected to take place in early May.
The members will again be asked two questions – if they are prepared to take strike action and if they are prepared to take industrial action short of a strike.
The move comes 11 months after the NHS Pay Review Body recommended a 1% uplift for all health service staff, including those in Northern Ireland.
“Staff have to be valued and fairly rewarded for the work they do”
Unlike the rest of the UK, ministers in Northern Ireland have only recently made a decision on the recommendations for 2014-15, opting to reject them and instead offer a deal similar to the one previously rejected by unions in England.
The Northern Ireland Executive said staff at the top of their pay band should receive a non-consolidated 1% pay award while staff not at the top would receive no pay award. Meanwhile, there has been no announcement about pay for 2015-16.
RCM chief executive Cathy Warwick said midwives in Northern Ireland were “at the end of their tether”.
“Northern Ireland is the only country in the UK not to have an agreement for pay in 2015-16,” she said. “Scotland paid the recommended uplift and England and Wales negotiated agreements. Staff in Northern Ireland have been ignored.”
She added: “Last year was the first time in the history of the RCM that we balloted for industrial action in England and this will be the first time in our history that we will ballot in Northern Ireland.”
Professor Warwick said she hoped the ministers and employers would join unions at the negotiating table to “reconsider their position and seek a solution”.
|RCM consultation result:|
|Question One: Are you prepared to take strike action?|
|Question Two: Are you prepared to take action short of a strike?|