Midwives and maternity support workers in Northern Ireland will be balloted on taking industrial action over pay, it was announced today.
The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) board unanimously decided to ballot their members amid uproar around pay with midwives in Northern Ireland earning £2,000 less than colleagues in England.
The RCM, which joins other health unions including the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) in balloting members on significant industrial action, came after eight months of talks with the Department of Health where a ‘fair and decent resolution’ was not found.
‘The Department of Health must understand the RCM and other unions are willing to negotiate, but they must accept pay parity with the rest of the UK for our members is crucial,’ said RCM director for Northern Ireland Karen Murray.
She continued: ‘Midwives and maternity support workers in Northern Ireland deliver high-quality care to women and their families, often in understaffed and pressured services and paying them less is not only unjust, but also creates a strong feeling that they are not valued.
‘We should be doing all we can to make midwifery as a profession more attractive in order to retain and recruit staff and paying them less than they deserve will not achieve this.’
If RCM members vote to go ahead with industrial action, they will join nurses in Northern Ireland who are set to take three days of industrial action over pay and staffing levels on the 3, 10 and 11 December.
The RCN said industrial action would involve nurses declining to do non-patient-specific tasks, including administrative tasks, paperwork and answering telephones.
RCN members also voted to strike, set to take place for 12 hours on the 18 December.
In 2018, when consulted, 95% of the RCM’s membership in Northern Ireland said they would also be willing to take strike action over fair pay.