Midwives in Northern Ireland have voted to strike over the issue of pay, after they were balloted in March.
A total of 49.9% of the RCM 's members in Northern Ireland voted in the ballot. Of these, 89.7% said they were prepared to take part in a strike, while 96.5% said they would participate in industrial action short of a strike, such as working to rule.
Cathy Warwick, the RCM's chief executive, said: 'This result from our ballot is an unambiguous "yes": It could not send a clearer signal to those in power about the level of dissatisfaction among our members on this issue. Our members have suffered four years of pay restraint and many now face the prospect another year.'
The ballot was conducted due to the refusal of the government to award the 1% pay rise recommended by the NHS Pay Review Body. Northern Ireland is the last country in the UK that has not given NHS workers the pay increase. Scotland accepted the Pay Review Body's recommendations, while staff in England were given a pay rise after protracted industrial action, and in Wales after negotiations.
Breedagh Hughes, RCM director for Northern Ireland, said: 'Our members provide a 24/7 service to mothers and babies all year round. They very often work additional hours – frequently unpaid – to ensure care is of the highest level. Employers have taken this dedication and commitment and thrown it back in their faces. Our members are now unsurprisingly disillusioned and are fed up with being taken for granted by employers. The level of turn-out and their response testifies to this.'
The RCM has not announced when the industrial action will begin.