The RCM have announced that they will ballot their members in Northern Ireland over the issue of pay, after a consultation gave a favourable response to industrial action.
In the consultation, 88.8% of members said that they were prepared to take strike action and 94.8% voted in favour of taking action short of a strike, such as a period of working to rule. Of the RCM's Northern Irish members, 48.2% responded to the consultation.
Cathy Warwick, chief executive of the RCM, said: 'Midwives are at the end of their tether. They have suffered long-term pay restraint and changes to their pension and terms and conditions. Meanwhile they are working harder and harder to deliver high quality care with continuing shortages of midwives and daily pressures on services.
The ballot of the RCM's 1200 members in Northern Ireland will begin on 30 March and close on 20 April. Members will be asked if they support strike action and if they support industrial action short of a strike.
Ms Warwick said: 'Staff have to be valued and fairly rewarded for the work they do. Staff that are demoralised cannot deliver the quality of care that HSC users, including mothers and babies, deserve. Investing in staff is an investment in better care. I hope the Northern Ireland Executive and HSC Employers join the RCM and other unions at the negotiating table, reconsider their position and seek a solution.'
Northern Ireland is the only region in the UK which has not offered NHS staff a pay rise in line with the NHS Pay Review Body's recommendations for 2015/16.
Ms Warwick added: 'Northern Ireland is the only country in the UK not to have an agreement for pay in 2015/16. Scotland paid the recommended uplift and England and Wales negotiated agreements. The staff in Northern Ireland have been ignored.'