Unions suspend strike action after pay deal reached

The deal will cost an estimated £109 million.

Clare Bodell
16 January 2020
NI Strike RCN

Any deal will be subject to a final vote by members.

Unions have announced the suspension of strike action in Northern Ireland.

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Newly-elected health minister Robin Swann has agreed to bring healthcare workers’ pay back into line with England and to take measures to improve staffing levels.

The provision deal, which is estimated to cost £109 million, was reached last night after many hours of intensive negotiations between the trade union group and the Department of Health.

Members in Northern Ireland will be consulted in the deal once it has been signed off by senior trade union officials.

A long and difficult road.

Mr. Swann has warmly welcomed announcements by health unions Unison and RCN suspending industrial action.

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The Minister said, “This has been a very difficult time but I believe everyone across the health and social care system can now move forward together.

“Today’s announcements will be welcomed by many – not least by patients and of course staff who took industrial action with a very heavy heart.”

Pat Cullen, Director of the RCN in Northern Ireland, has advised the five health and social care trusts that strike action planned for next week will no longer take place. She said:  “On behalf of our members, we would like to thank Health Minister Robin Swann MLA for taking seriously the concerns of nursing staff and for having the willingness to listen and take meaningful action in a short space of time.”

“I am immensely proud of the steadfastness and determination that nurses have shown in order to improve conditions not just for nurses, but for patients who have been subjected to longer waiting lists and delayed care for long enough. This dispute always focused not just on pay, but on ensuring that we have the right numbers of nurses in the right places, to provide the care and treatment required.

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Gained the support and respect of the people.

UNISON General Secretary Dave Prentis said: “Our members in Northern Ireland have not only achieved pay parity against great odds, they have won the support and respect of the People of Northern Ireland by their determination to stand up for the rights of patients and health workers alike. ”

“There can be little doubt that their sustained industrial action, dominating headlines for 7 weeks, forced a response from both the UK Government and the main NI political parties that has resulted in the restoration of devolved government with the Health Service at the top of the agenda.

“I take great pride in extending congratulations to them from everyone in UNISON.  I take particular pride in the fact that our members,  who have worked tirelessly to protect the Peace Process over the past 20 years,  were the catalyst in the return of power-sharing and what we all hope is the start of a new era of rights and equality for all.  Our members from right across the community in Northern Ireland have delivered for all the people. Now its up to the politicians to do the same”

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