Members of the RCN in Northern Ireland are taking strike action for the first time in the organisation’s 103-year history.
The programme of strike action is being taken to demand measures to address unsafe staffing levels and deliver pay parity with colleagues from across the UK. In Northern Ireland, there are currently 2800 vacant nursing posts and nurse pay has fallen by 15% in real terms in recent years. Nurses in Northern Ireland are the lowest paid in the UK.
‘This is a moment that every nurse wishes had never come, but faced with an abject failure to tackle unsafe staffing levels and severe pay inequality with colleagues from across the UK, our members in Northern Ireland are saying enough is enough,’ said Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN.
‘Nurses are taking a stand for their patients, and also for their colleagues, and it is about time that the powers that be finally sat up and took notice because the crisis in the HSC cannot be allowed to continue. To every one of our members in Northern Ireland taking this stand, I want you to know that the RCN, and its entire membership, are right behind you.’
The beginning of the strike action follows three days of industrial action which took place earlier in December. If no resolution is forthcoming, further strike days are planned in January, February and March of 2020.
‘Our members, who are taking this historic action have been left with little choice,’ said RCN Northern Ireland Director Pat Cullen. ‘Patient care is being compromised by unsafe staffing levels and nurses’ pay has been left to dwindle and fall behind that of colleagues from across the UK. When 92% of those balloted said they would take strike action to protect patients last month, it should have kick-started the Department of Health into finding a solution, but it hasn’t.’