The government must release funding so health, education and other public sector workers in Northern Ireland can have their pay disputes resolved, says UNISON today (Thursday).
The call comes as thousands of health, care, school and other public sector workers, belonging to UNISON and 14 other unions, are to take strike action today, following the Westminster government’s ongoing failure to provide the funding needed to resolve pay disputes, says the union.
The action, which is expected to be Northern Ireland’s biggest public sector strike in recent history, takes place in the continuing absence of a Northern Ireland executive at Stormont, and the failure of the Northern Ireland secretary to release funding that he says is available for public sector pay.
The UK government says it has set aside £600m to settle public sector pay claims as part of a £3.3bn financial package to support the return of devolution in Northern Ireland. UNISON says the funding for pay should be released now.
UNISON general secretary Christina McAnea, who will be joining workers on picket lines across Northern Ireland, said: “Public sector workers in Northern Ireland are paying the price for political inaction.
“Health, care, school and other public service employees are hugely frustrated. Public sector workers never want to strike. But this intolerable situation has left them with no other option.
“NHS workers in the rest of the UK have had their wage rise for this year, but their colleagues in Northern Ireland have been left in limbo. Education support services workers have not had their long overdue pay and grading review funded either.
“Chris Heaton-Harris has said there’s money available for pay. That money needs to be released. Everyone wants to see an executive back up and running at Stormont, but public servants shouldn’t be caught in the middle.
“The secretary of state needs to do the right thing and do it now. Workers across public services in Northern Ireland should not have to wait a moment longer.’’
Notes to editors:
– UNISON members working across health and social care services in Northern Ireland have been undertaking industrial action for over 12 months. During this time, they have seen NHS workers in England, Scotland and Wales all receive a pay rise, but no wage offer has been made to them.
– In November, UNISON members in education services in Northern Ireland went on strike over the failure of the education authority to reform its pay and grading structure. The funding for this has also failed to materialise.
– Striking workers will take part in a number of marches and rallies across Northern Ireland today. Locations and details are available here:
– UNISON is the UK’s largest union with more than 1.3 million members providing public services in education, local government, the NHS, police service and energy. They are employed in the public, voluntary and private sectors.
The article Westminster government must unlock funding for Northern Ireland public sector pay rise now first appeared on the UNISON National site.